Nicky Morgan has urged parents to swot up on how to keep their children safe online as thousands of young people were given the latest gadgets for Christmas this year.
The education secretary called on parents to learn how to turn on the devices' parental controls, as failing to do so could leave children exposed to potential dangers online. Last year, more than 50 per cent of young people were given computer devices for Christmas.
Ms Morgan's comments came as the Department for Education announced an additional £500,000 in funding for the Safer Internet Centre, an e-safety advice website that advises schools and teachers on how to teach their students to stay safe online.
According to children’s charity the NSPCC, a considerable amount of inappropriate content is available on the internet but just 9,500 websites were removed worldwide last year by the Internet Watch Foundation.
The charity also said recent figures revealed that more than one in 10 children aged between 8 and 11 were friends with someone online whom they did not know in the outside world, and the figure leapt to one in three among 12- to 15-year-olds.
The education secretary said she understood how parents were worried about keeping their children safe online, as well as ensuring that children were not downloading paid-for content without consent.
“This isn’t just about what they may be exposed to but ensuring that parents' pockets are also not hit by the unauthorised purchasing of apps and games – something very easily done,” Ms Morgan said.
“But this isn’t just a problem for parents. Schools have a role to play too, which is why we have put online safety at the heart of the curriculum and I am delighted to announce extra funding to ensure children are given the information and tools they need to protect themselves online.”