Ron Hogg, Durham’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), said:
"Across County Durham and Darlington, Durham Constabulary has been working closely with schools to deliver interactive workshops to help educate young people to ensure they know how to stay safe online and where to get help if they need it.
"Staying safe online is not just a local issue, but a world-wide concern. The internet can be a practical and enjoyable environment when used correctly, however I urge people to not only keep themselves safe online, but to also be responsible for ensuring the safety of our young people, who are often the most vulnerable and rely on adult protection."
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Social networking websites help connect friends using blogs, profiles, email systems and photos. Well known sites include Twitter and Facebook.
How to guide children through social networking:
- Encourage children to upload pictures that you are happy with
- Don't allow them to identify their school
- Encourage them to reject 'friendship requests' from strangers and not to add anyone they don't know
- Do not allow them to post their phone number or email addresses
Police compare leaving a child to roam the internet freely to leaving a child alone in a strange area. They remind parents that just because they are inside does not mean they're safe. People in chat rooms and forums an exploit others by masking identities, awareness is important.
How to reduce risk:
- Keep computers in open areas
- Establish guidelines and talk about them
- Go on the sites your child uses
- Learn 'text' language like 'u' for 'you'
- Meet their online friends like you'd meet school friends
- Only allow meetings in public with an adult present
- Encourage questions
- If in doubt, contact police
The region's police forces are supporting the 11th Safer Internet Day. The theme is 'Let's create a better internet together'. The aim is to raise awareness of internet dangers with young people and also explain to parents how to keep the web safe.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is backing Safer Internet Day, the worldwide event aimed at promoting a more responsible use of technology. The force has its own youth website which provides information and advice for young people, parents and teachers about staying safe.
"While e-safety is a very important issue for anyone using the web, it is especially important for young people who need to be made aware of the potential dangers of the internet, social networks and mobile communication,” the Commissioner said.
"By educating children and young people at an early age, it can help prevent them from becoming victims of any crimes linked to the internet as well as providing them with information on what to do if someone targets them.”
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The first phase of a multimillion pound fibre broadband project gets underway in Northumberland this morning.
Thousands of homes and businesses across the county are to benefit from faster internet.
The project hopes that the new technology will help the county's rural communities have access to the same broadband speeds as more urban areas.
An eight million pound factory which digests leftover food and turns it into energy has been officially opened.
The Emerald Biogas site, in Newton Aycliffe, is the first of its kind in the region.
Among its supporters is television celebrity and recycling campaigner Janet Street-Porter, who was at the plant's official opening today.
Claire Montgomery reports.