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Can libraries bring internet safety to life?

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Outcome: digital

Graphic of a computer screen and mobile phone. The digital icon for Libraries Deliver.[Editor’s note: this post was written by Rachael Bishop, Deputy Director (Acting) for Internet Policy at DCMS]

In October this year, government published its Internet Safety Strategy that aims to make Britain the safest place in the world for users to be online. What do we mean by online safety? We want individuals to be protected from online harms as far as possible and to have the digital resilience to cope with issues when they occur.

So we’re setting challenging proposals for industry, including a social media code of practice that will address conduct that is bullying or insulting to users, or other behaviour that is likely to intimidate or humiliate. We also want platforms to be more transparent about what’s happening on their site, through annual reporting that will inform policy change.

The strategy outlines the crucial role that education will play in raising the level of users' safety online, with a particular focus on children and parents. Today’s are the first generation of children who are learning about relationships and sex in an online world. We’re therefore ensuring that new curricula address the challenges experienced by young people online. And we want parents and carers to become confident in approaching online issues with their children, right from the Early Years stages.

Photo of a family sitting around a laptop in a library.
Family learning in a library. Photo credit: Society of Chief Librarians

So what role can libraries play?

The 3,000 libraries in England offer many ways of engaging their diverse range of users to share online safety; indeed many are already leading this work through tech teach-ins aimed at parents and participation in UK Safer Internet Day activities. The strategy states that the government would like to encourage libraries to continue to be involved in such initiatives.

We’d like to invite you to submit your feedback on the proposals in the Internet Safety Strategy and any online safety ideas relating to the library sector. We are particularly interested in your responses to the following questions:

  • what role could libraries play in making online safety resources available for parents?
  • would training about online harms (e.g cyberbullying) be helpful?
  • how could online safety messages be integrated into existing products and library services for children and adults?

Please email these to by 19 January.

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