Keeping safe online
Monday 15 October 2012
A new guide advises parents on internet safety for people with a learning disability or autism
Three charities, including Mencap, have today (15 October) launched a new guide to help parents prevent their sons or daughters having negative experiences online.
Produced by Cerebra, Mencap and Ambitious about Autism, the resource identifies a range of potential risks that people with a learning disability or autism face when using the internet and gives advice on how to prevent and deal with them. It also suggests resources that will help children get the most out of the internet at home and in the community.
Use of the internet is increasing, with 77% of households in Great Britain having an internet connection in 2011. More and more children and young people are learning and socialising using online resources. Many children with special educational needs are supported to use information technology in schools to allow them to access their education more successfully. Children use the internet to do their homework, to play games and to socialise with their peers. There are real benefits to young people with a learning disability and autism using the internet and it increasingly caters for their needs with accessible design and simplified language.
However, there are also a number of risks, including the potential for cyberbullying, online grooming and risk of exposure to inappropriate content. This is a risk for all children and young people using the internet, but the risk can be greater for young people with a learning disability. Studies have shown that pupils with special educational needs are 16% more likely to be persistently bullied online over a prolonged period of time.
“The problem is that many parents don’t know where to start when it comes to protecting their child online and this is where we hope our guide will help,” explains Elizabeth Archer, Mencap’s national children and young people’s programme manager and author of the guide. “It provides information on how to make your home and mobile internet safe, guidance on how to support your child to use the internet safely, advice on various risk factors such as cyberbullying and criminal activity, and links to useful websites and organisations. We hope the guide will help parents to feel empowered to help their child make the most of the opportunities available to them online.”