Online technology continues to advance and change the way people communicate and interact on a daily basis.
Sports organisations, coaches and others involved in providing activities for children and young people are increasingly using the internet and social media to promote sport and communicate with them.
These forms of digital media and communication can provide great benefits. However, they can also pose potential safeguarding risks to children and young people.
Potential risks for young people
Online safety risks for young people can include, but are not limited to:
- posting personal information that can identify and locate a child offline
- potential for inappropriate relationships between adults in positions of trust 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
- glorifying activities such as drug taking or excessive drinking
Take a look at the NSPCC website for more information about the types of abuse that can happen online.
What online safety means for sport
Communicating with children and young people online can have great benefits for an organisation, from encouraging a team ethos, to gaining new club members.
Unfortunately, having negative experiences online can affect a young person’s enjoyment of sport as well as their performance. Organisations should make sure they put appropriate safeguards in place to protect children from potential risks whilst in their care or communicating with them online.
Creating a safer online environment
Follow these steps to help ensure a safe online environment for children and young people:
- have an online safety policy and an acceptable use statement which includes the use of social media for staff and young people
- have specific procedures and specific codes of conduct for young people and staff to follow that outline what’s acceptable behaviour online and what’s not
- ensure that everyone involved – including coaches, volunteers, administrators, parents and children – understands and complies with their responsibilities within these policies
- address any instances of misconduct online in accordance with your online safety and social media policy