Make sure gadget gifts are safe for youngsters

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People buying gadgets for youngsters this Christmas are being urged to make security settings safe.

Parents, guardians and relatives buying web-enabled devices such as smart phones, laptops and games consoles as festive gifts for teenagers are being urged to enable security settings to help protect them online.

As part of the ongoing ‘Child Sexual Exploitation - Know The Signs’ campaign, West Yorkshire Police has produced a number of easy to read guides for different social media applications and gaming consoles explaining how to set privacy levels and restrict access to information.

Detective Chief Inspector Sue Jenkinson said: “Under Christmas trees across West Yorkshire this year there will be gift wrapped smart phones, games consoles and laptops which teenage boys and girls are raring to get their hands on. While these can be a great way of keeping in touch with friends and family, it is also possible for strangers who could be pretending to be someone else to communicate with children via these devices.

“If you are giving a web-enabled device as a present, we would suggest checking our online guides to restrict who is able to see pictures and personal information on social media applications and gaming consoles. Most of us will remember the ‘Don’t Talk to Strangers’ campaigns, but this is just as relevant online and parents and guardians have a role to play in activating privacy settings and making sure teenagers are aware of what they can do to protect themselves online.”

West Yorkshire Police continues to work in partnership with local children safeguarding boards, local authorities and the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson, to raise awareness of the issue of child sexual exploitation under the ‘Know the Signs’ campaign.

Jane Held, Independent Chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board said: “In the excitement of Christmas, it is easy to forget that the parcel your child is unwrapping could have unexpected consequences. Ten minutes spent before wrapping could prevent a lot of time spent dealing with the problems online risks create. These guides help everyone to do the right thing, quickly and easily.”

West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime and Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said: “Protecting our communities from CSE remains one of my top priorities and I fully support the ongoing WYP Know the Signs Campaign that highlights CSE issues and encourages victims to support it which has been nationally recognised.

“Tackling cyber-crime is a key priority in my Police and Crime Plan and I am investing over £1m additional funding this year as there has been an increase of online forums and social media being used to bully, stalk and groom people, so it is crucial the correct parental controls are in place to protect children.

“I would urge parents to check the online guides provided by West Yorkshire Police to ensure they are in possession of all they need to know about all the new technology their children are receiving this Christmas.”

The guides and more information about the campaign are available on the West Yorkshire Police website at www.westyorkshire.police.uk/cse/onlineguides and the Leeds Safeguarding Children Board website at www.leedslscb.org.uk/Parents-Carers-Wider-Family/Keeping-children-safe-online

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