A time for online Trust

Julie Henderson (far left) and Karen Hedgley (far right) with the young inspectors
Julie Henderson (far left) and Karen Hedgley (far right) with the young inspectors

HEALTH chiefs have joined the battle to promote safe use of the internet for children.

Posters warning youngsters of the potential risks are set to go on display at the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Two e-safety posters will go up. One will be aimed at young people and the other at much younger children.

Trust chiefs say the aim is to ensure children know the internet can be fun and educational, but they need to be aware of the risks.

Julia Henderson and Karen Hedgley, the Trust’s nurses responsible for children’s safeguarding, created the posters with the help of youngsters acting as ‘young inspectors’.

The project also involved young people visiting the trust and inspecting its wards.

Julia said: “It is very important that children and young people know the risks around using the internet.

“Using it should be a fun and useful thing for children. It can help them to learn and also to interact with other people.

“But they also need to be aware of the potential risks involved with its use. We want to make them aware of things such as keeping their password safe.”

She referred to one of the messages on the poster - that children should be treating their password like their own toothbrush, keeping it to themselves.

It was also important for children to be aware of abuse and misuse on the internet. “We want to make them aware of bullying online, respecting others, and telling a parent or carer about any issues,” Julie added.

She stressed children should only give personal details to trusted friends, and keep any evidence of offending messages from other people.

“For younger children we have focused on issues such as always asking a grown-up before using the internet, not telling people where you live and not sending photos to people who you don’t know.

“These are things that all children and young people who use the internet need to be aware of. People on the internet may not always be who they claim they are. It’s sensible for children to be following this advice.”

The posters also include links for websites offering tips and advice. These include www.thinkuknow.co.uk and www.chatdanger.com

Julia added: “Children shouldn’t feel scared to use the internet. Forums and social networking sites are fantastic ways of sharing information with friends and family.

“These posters are just a reminder to children and parents of the potential risks.”