THE Western Trust have launched a booklet offering guidance to children in their care on how to be internet safe.
The 'Be Internet Safe' - how to keep safe online booklet was launched this week by Mrs Ann McDuff, Western Trust Head of Service, at an event on the impact of new technology and how it affects the emotional health and wellbeing of vulnerable young people. Using the internet is a way of life for most of us. But being online can also cause problems for children and young people in care who can be particularly vulnerable.
Attended by practitioners, social workers and carers who work with young people across the Western Trust area, the meeting included a talk by the PSNI's Tim Cooke.
He highlighted how social media has changed how we communicate and covered issues around cyber-bullying, inappropriate texting, unsuitable content online and its potential to affect personal relationships.
John Gillespie, Service Manager for Children's Residential Care Services at the Western Trust who developed the resource, said the booklet was produced as a result of many issues raised by practitioners working closely with young people in the Trust area.
"Evidence suggests that practitioners need to be more aware of what young people are able to access online or via new technology so that they are best placed to advise them on how to stay safe. Although most information is positive and beneficial, unfortunately some young people will unknowingly put themselves at risk online or by using mobile phones inappropriately," he said.
Sonia Montgomery, Western Trust Team Lead, Health Improvement Department said, "The virtual world is where most young people choose to communicate so the challenge for us is to reduce the risk. The booklet complements work on-going in the Western Trust highlighting internet safety through a process of education".
The booklet was developed in partnership with the Trust's Health Improvement Department and funded by the Public Health Agency. It can be accessed by visiting the Western Trust's website, www.westerntrust.hscni.net.