These days when we talk about the internet or ‘being online’, we’re often talking about the use of social media.
Sports organisations, coaches and others involved in providing activities for children and young people are increasingly using social media, as well as their own websites, to promote sport and communicate with members.
What online safety means for sport
Using websites and social media platforms to promote your sport or organisation can have great benefits, such as encouraging a team ethos, sharing information or news to participants, listening to the voices of children and young people and attracting new club members.
However, when young people set up profiles on websites and apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok, they share a wealth of information about themselves. If things such as their name, photographs, social activities or hobbies and interests are publicly available, they can potentially be used by adults to identify individual children, gain their trust or groom them for abuse.
Organisations should make sure they use online platforms responsibly, by putting appropriate safeguards in place to protect children from potential risks whilst in their care or communicating with them online.
Potential risks for young people
Online safety risks for young people can include, but are not limited to:
- making themselves identifiable by posting personal details on social media such as the school they attend or their home address
- communicating with people they don’t know, including potentially dangerous individuals
- potential for inappropriate relationships between adults in positions of trust, or influence and the young people they work with
- sexual grooming, luring, exploitation and abuse, or unwanted contact
- exposure to inappropriate content, including pornography, racist or hate material or violent behaviour
- being encouraged to create or share inappropriate or harmful material of themselves or others, including sexting (sexual images or video)
- glorifying activities such as drug taking or excessive drinking
- cyberbullying or berating by peers and people they consider ‘friends’ – in sport this can include negative comments or reactions about their performance or achievement
- access to inaccurate and therefore potentially harmful information
- encouragement to take part in violent behaviour or harmful trends
Take a look at the NSPCC website for more information about the types of abuse that can happen online.
The below video details some of the potential risks to young people whilst using specific popular platforms and apps. This clip has been taken from our 2018 webinar - Keeping children safe online and is presented by Sam Slemensek, Cyber Crime Adviser at Warwickshire County Council.