Internet Matters is an award winning not-for-profit that helps parents and professionals support children to be happy, healthy and safe online.
The Connecting Safely Online hub was developed to provide advice on connecting safely on social and gaming platforms, tailored to teens with SEND.
1 Meeting needs
Our report, ‘Refuge and Risk’, shows that while the internet provides many benefits for vulnerable children, they’re also significantly more likely than their non-vulnerable peers to experience online risks and harm.
We want to empower vulnerable children and the adults in their lives, so that they can enjoy the advantages of being online while managing the risks. The Connecting Safely Online hub was developed to do exactly that.
2 Co-created content
We recognise that standard online safety advice isn’t always suitable for children with SEND. That’s why we engaged with young people who have additional needs and their parents, carers and teachers when developing Connecting Safely Online.
Their insights were invaluable to the creation of the hub’s unambiguous advice, aimed at helping adults and young people learn together in a step-by-step way. More on the hub’s creation can be found in our ‘Life Online for children with SEND’ report.
3 Step-by-step advice
It’s important to think about wellbeing from the very start of a child’s online journey. Connecting Safely Online thus offers advice on what to consider before a child has even started to use social media.
In formats tailored to users with additional needs, support for both adults and young people is broken down into first steps, basics and only then the trickier stuff.
“We want to empower vulnerable children and the adults in their lives, so that they can enjoy the advantages of being online while managing the risks”
4 Shared activities
As well as guidance, the hub also contains a section dedicated to activities for adults and young people to complete together. These can be easily adapted for the classroom or shared with parents, so that they can continue their child’s learning at home.
Examples include the ‘Am I Ready?’ resource, ‘Chat Check-ins’, ‘What If…?’ scenarios and ‘Get Help’ cards.
5 Cross-topic support
Connecting Safely Online includes practical guidance on setting up devices and configuring privacy controls (a particular concern among parents), as well as help with related issues, such as cyberbullying, nudes and sexting, scams and screen time.
Hub users will additionally be signposted to further sources of support, including helplines, forums and other external organisations.
- In common with all Internet Matters resources, the Connecting Safely Online hub, is entirely free to use and doesn’t require any form of site registration
- We conduct continuous research that informs the hub and our activities, including surveying parents of vulnerable children three times a year
- The Connecting Safely Online hub was developed by online safety and wellbeing experts, alongside individuals with personal experience of SEND
- The hub forms part of a wider programme of support from Internet Matters, aimed at adults involved in supporting vulnerable children