Barnardo's is warning parents to remain vigilant to the dangers their children face by spending more time online as schools close due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
As more people spend longer at home, Barnardo's is warning that youngsters are likely to be more exposed to potential grooming and inappropriate content.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“Even before Coronavirus, children were spending an average of five and a half hours a day on social media. With schools closed and many children forced to stay indoors this is bound to increase.
“This will expose children to growing risks online, including cyber-bullying, sexual grooming, and self-harm forums. Two-thirds of vulnerable children supported through Barnardo’s sexual exploitation services were groomed online before meeting their abuser in person.
“We cannot expect children to protect themselves. Parents and carers should have open conversations with their children about what they’re doing online, and should make sure privacy and age-appropriate settings are set at their highest, and that geo-location settings are turned off.
“Now more than ever we need urgent regulation to make the online world safer for children – including the powers to hold tech companies to account.”