Social media and networks in health and social care
Social media and networks in health and social care

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1.3 Children, young people and the internet

While the internet can offer a wealth of advantages, some of which you have explored in previous sections, there are a range of risks and challenges when using it, particularly for children and young people. Conversely, children and young people with developmental and intellectual disability or mental health conditions are particularly vulnerable to the risks of the internet.

Online abuse can reflect that which occurs in the offline world, such as emotional abuse, grooming, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and radicalisation, but some is predominantly online only, such as cyberbullying and sexting (NSPCC, 2019). There might also be many others that you will come across in the next activity. Online abuse can occur through a range of platforms and can potentially lead to offline abuse, as you will see below.

Cyberbullying: This is bullying that occurs online. This type of bullying can follow the child wherever they use the internet or mobile technology.

Emotional abuse: This is the continuous emotional mistreatment of a child. This can happen both online and offline.

Grooming: This can happen online or offline and involves another person, typically an adult, building a relationship with a child with the intent to abuse or exploit them.

Sexting: This is the online use of messaging technology in a range of platforms with the purpose of sharing sexual or naked images or messages. Children can be coerced into sending these images.

Sexual abuse: This involves forcing a child into sexual activities, e.g. viewing or sharing sexual related content either online or offline.

Sexual exploitation: Being forced to create and/or share explicit content. This can happen online or offline.

Radicalisation: The process of persuading or coercing a child or young person to adopt extreme political, religious or social views.

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