The 9th February 2016 sees the return of Safer Internet Day. Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre, the aim of Safer Internet Day is to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children.
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Childwise, a research agency, recently announced a landmark change in how children spend their time. Children are now, for the first time, spending more time playing and socialising online rather than watching TV. Creating a safer online community therefore has now become more important in society than ever before.
Despite the focus of Safer Internet Day primarily being on children, adults can also use this time to consider how they themselves can be more vigilant whilst being online, namely for their career’s sake. In this article, I explore what Safer Internet Day could mean for various professionals in terms of their own conduct, regulation and career.
let’s look at what Safer Internet Day could mean for various professionals in terms of their own conduct, regulation and career
Regulation also extends outside the workplace
Regulators for professions such as teachers, doctors, nurses etc. are becoming increasingly alive to issues relating to the online activity of professionals. The regulators regulate professionals as a person, rather than just their professional conduct in the workplace.
There has long since been controversy regarding the appropriate boundary of regulation of professionals. As an expert in professional disciplinary defence, I have heard of a number of professionals that have risked losing their careers in relation to their online activity. Many of these individuals had regarded their private online conduct as something that would remain entirely private, only to subsequently face a devastating inquiry by their regulatory body.
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How can professionals keep themselves safe online?
Whatever personal views are held on the appropriateness of intervention by regulators into private online activity by professions, it is crucial to accept that this is happening and to act accordingly.
Following these useful tips when engaging in online social interactions with strangers should help to ensure that your reputation and career remain safe, avoiding any fitness to practise investigation by your regulator:
- Never reveal what your professional status is;
- Never reveal your full name and/or address;
- Be alert to safeguarding issues relating to children and young people;
- Report any concerns regarding the safety of children online to the appropriate safeguarding authorities;
- Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that what you write online won’t ever be traced back to you;
- Don’t write anything online, even on an anonymous basis, that you wouldn’t be comfortable explaining to your regulator if it came to that.
To find out more about Safer Internet Day, visit UK Safer Internet Centre and find out how you can get involved.