An advice session for parents about keeping children safe online will be held in Otley this month.
The event, organised in response to concerns raised by local schools, takes place at Prince Henry’s Grammar School, from 7pm to 8.30pm, on Tuesday, February 25.
The evening has been arranged by the Otley, Pool-in-Wharfedale and Bramhope Extended Services Cluster in conjunction with the Leeds Child Protection Team and a Police Community Liaison Officer.
It will focus on ways of protecting children from being exposed to inappropriate online contact, or material, while using mobile phones, games consoles and tablets.
Sandy Blunn, learning mentor at Bramhope Primary – who will be speaking at the event – said: “We have found, as have the other primary schools in the area, that children are increasingly accessing the internet privately, using electronic devices. While there is no problem with this, if children are appropriately protected, we do want parents to consider who this might mean children are inviting into their bedrooms, via the Internet, without realising it.
“Children are spending more time messaging, Skypeing and setting up internet gaming groups than they are talking and it is very easy for them to be approached inappropriately.
“Children can be very trusting and open on the internet and don’t always understand the safety issues and consequences.”
One local primary had found that 39 per cent of children were using phones, and 32 per cent games consoles, to access the internet, alongside computer and tablet use.
Another had an incident where a group of children had formed a gaming group on their console and were sent an inappropriate image by an adult who had joined the group, pretending to be a young child.
Phil Temple, cluster manager and assistant headteacher at Prince Henry’s, added: “The primary schools have been increasingly concerned by this issue and it made sense to run an event where all the parents can attend.
“While any device run through a school-based internet service is protected by very strong firewalls, it is during use at home where the primary headteachers were concerned that these protections are not necessarily in place.
“This is why the evening will also give practical advice on what parents can do, both in protecting devices and in talking to their children, as well as exploring the dangers.”
Parents can book a place by contacting their primary school, while letters and more information will also be distributed by the schools.
For more advice on internet safety, visit thinkuknow.co.uk.