Safety On-Line

Following on from our Autumn pastoral blog we have further information from Devon & Cornwall Police& Torbay Safeguarding Children’s Board which we hope will help all parents/carers to be more aware of the possible dangers on line and support us in making sure that all young people can be well informed and protect themselves against potential threats to their safety.

Please find following information regarding apps that are currently causing safety concerns:-

APP Alert Live Me

A Wallsall school has become aware of a potential risk posed for young people using this APP, Live Me.  Children and young people are using a popular live streaming mobile app Live.me.  The app allows its users to post live broadcasts and receive ‘tips’ from other users for completing specific tasks during live broadcasts.  These ‘tips’ are in the form of ‘gold coins’ and can be exchanged for money.  Users then have the ability to either delete the recording of the live broadcast or post it on their profile.  The app also does not have any restrictions on the age an individual needs to be to create an account.

Understandably, the app has attracted young people who may not be equipped to understand the dangers of recording and sharing sexual videos or engaging in sexual activity whilst streaming live video feeds. They need to understand that anyone on the other end of the live feed can capture a still image or video of them engaged in that activity – all without their knowledge.

YouTube

The recent release (7th August 2017) includes a new direct chat feature on YouTube, allowing users to share and discuss videos without leaving the app.

Previously communication (grooming) on YouTube appears to have happened in the comments section, or by moving onto other apps, but this would appear to allow chat to occur privately within YouTube.  We are yet to see if YouTube will have particular safeguards in place around this function, and whether/how they will report grooming chat activity to law enforcement.

YouTube has the second most active users, behind Facebook, and direct message features are a primary grooming conduit therefore YouTube is likely to occur more activity in coming months.

Sarahah

Sarahah, which means “frankness” or “honesty” in Arabic, was originally created as a tool that would help employees provide unfiltered, anonymous, feedback to their employers.  However, the app spread like wildfire among social media-addicted teens who were posting links to their Sarahah profiles to Instagram Stories requesting anonymous feedback. Then Snapchat rolled out a major update, in July, and changed everything. While teens were already swapping Sarahah messages on Instagram, Snapchat rolled out an update that let users post links to websites inside of snaps.

The UK safer internet centre have begun receiving calls about new app Sarahah.  This is typically an indicator that the app is being widely used by young people across the UK.

Cases are now being seen across the region that Sarahah is being used to post indecent images, with links to the images being distributed via snapchat to a wider audience.

Hiding/Unhiding Apps

Although young people are more likely to use apps when it comes to hiding their pictures, applications, text messages and other data on their smartphones, it is still important to know what devices offer in terms of hiding apps and content.

Iphone

On the iphone, you can hide applications by going into Settings  General  Restrictions and checking off next to applications that you don’t want to show up on the screen.  To make them reappear, you can go back and repeat the process.

Androids

Androids offer the same option of hiding apps from the home screen.  You can do so by going to the Settings  Applications  Applications Manager  All Tab and choosing apps that you would like to hide and click disable.  On newer operating systems this can be achieved by dragging apps to the remove shortcuts bin (however the apps will appear on the apps shortcut).  Just like on the iphone, you will have to repeat the process to unhide the apps.  The app Apex launcher is also a vault application used for this purpose and is installed by default on some methods.

Help & Support

The internet and apps evolve so quickly it can feel as though technology is moving too fast for parents and schools to keep up.  However, it does not change the fact that young people will continue to seek to interact with technology and will need our advice and support to stay safe online.

Below are a number of resources to help educate adults and young people around the issue of on line safety and app security:

UK Safer Internet Centre https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/

Revenge Porn Hotline https://revengepornhelpline.org.uk/  The only organisation providing support and advice in the UK to victims of the non-consensual sharing of intimate images and cyber-enabled blackmail (known as sextortion).

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