Last Updated on 5th May 2023

Read the script below

C: Hello, and welcome to Safeguarding Soundbites, with me, Colin –

T: – and me, Tyla! If you’re searching for a podcast that rounds up this week’s safeguarding and social media news –

C: – while providing you with top tips for keeping children and young people safer online –

C&T: (together) – then you’ve come to the right place!

C: This week, we’ll be talking about all the latest progress in the world of social media, new government regulations, and more! Want to start us off, Tyla?

T: Sure thing, Colin!

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T: Did you know that yesterday was World Password Day?

C: I did know that, actually! Did you hear about what Google did to mark the occasion?

T: Yes, I did – as of yesterday, Google has started to roll out its new passkey technology to accounts across the world.

C: Passkey technology increases your account security by turning authentication options like your fingerprints, facial ID, and chosen pin numbers into a new type of ‘more secure’ password.

T: So kind of like when I’m unlocking my phone with FaceID?

C: Sort of, yes. Google plans to use a ‘cryptographic private key’ – which is just a big name for a string of numbers and letters that protects your information – stored on your device with a corresponding public key stored on Google’s server.

T: But if it’s public, does that mean that other people will be able to see it? That doesn’t sound like it will increase anyone’s online safety.

C: No, it will still be private, don’t worry! ‘Public’ is just the term used to describe the technology that responds to the information you give the platform. The ‘public’ key will set a unique challenge for the ‘private’ key to answer.

T: So how is this more secure than using a traditional password?

C: This process is considered more secure because it uses information that is unique to you. Only your authentication will be able to unlock your account, which will make it a lot harder for hackers to break in and steal your information.

T: Right, that makes sense! It’s great that Google are improving their security, but it doesn’t seem like it’s new – I feel like I’ve already used this technology with some of my devices and apps.

C: That’s because you have! Both Apple and Microsoft have been using similar technology in recent updates and apps as well.

T: I knew it sounded familiar! Does this mean I don’t have to worry about remembering passwords anymore?

C: Not necessarily. While this wide approach to authentication technology has led to some outlets referring to this as “the end of passwords” others prefer to look at this as a new and updated form of password protection that we will see become more widely used. For right now, however, it’s still a good idea to use strong passwords to protect your accounts that don’t use authentication technology.

T: Remember – longer is better! I like to use the ‘three word’ method. Just three random words that aren’t related to me or to each other, but that are easy for me to remember when I go to sign in.

C: That’s a great method! To find out more about how to improve your cyber security, check out our Cyber Security Webinar.

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C: Speaking of new technology that is becoming more widely used, Snapchat’s struggles with its new AI feature, ‘My AI’ are still continuing.

T: Last week, we mentioned that the feature had not been received well after being released to all Snapchat users. On top of many complaints about the feature’s presence, there were reports of inappropriate interactions, including some that involved underaged children. Despite Snapchat releasing new filters that would help keep the AI chat appropriate, such as age verification before starting the chat and parental insight for how the chatbot is being used, many unhappy users still review bombed the app stores with 1-star reviews.

C: That unhappiness seems to have persisted this week. CloudTech24 revealed this week that the search term “Delete Snapchat” has skyrocketed by 488%, five times more than its usual amount in the last three months. This is largely due to the fact that only those who have purchased Snapchat Plus subscriptions are able to remove the AI bot from the top of their chat list.

T: Not great, Snapchat!

C: Not great at all. It seems Snapchat is doubling down on their AI feature, after announcing the introduction of adverts to the chatbot as well as their Spotlight feature.

T: For example, if you’re having a text conversation with the AI chatbot about videogames, it will then send you relevant links from a game retailer that you might be interested in.

C: Or it might recommend local retailers to you, like restaurants and shops, based on your Snap Map location.

T: This form of targeted advertising is concerning, especially when we consider that around 20% of Snapchat’s user base is under 18, according to recent data.

C: You may be worried but to help your young person navigate Snapchat safely head to our website and search ‘Snapchat’ to find all of our available resources.

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T: Snapchat is probably not the only place you’ve seen AI popping up around the internet over the last few months.

C: Tyla, definitely not! It seems like AI is everywhere nowadays, doesn’t it? In fact I’ve even thought about just asking ChatGPT to write a podcast script.

T: That would be quite handy wouldn’t it Colin

C: It would!

T: It really does! Some professionals are even claiming AI could have as “big an impact on jobs as the industrial revolution.” This is why the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) in the UK have decided to carry out a review into AI products currently popping up around the market, like the Snapchat AI chatbot and ChatGPT.

C: AI’s growing power, popularity, and knowledge base is currently the ‘something’ that many platforms and businesses will want to have. It’s important that reviews like this take a look at how companies are applying artificial intelligence technology from a standpoint that considers things like human rights, health and safety, and market competition. The CMA plan to have evidence collected by the beginning of June, with a report planned for release in September.

T: It’s likely that we will see more reviews and regulations begin to pop up over the coming months as this technology grows in popularity and in use. We’ll be keeping an eye out for any further developments and how this will impact children and young people.

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C: A lot of technology has seen a boom in the last few years – unfortunately, this includes technology that allows scammers to operate digitally. The UK government has created a new ‘fraud’ strategy that will aim to block any sort of scam at its source.

T: They plan to work closely with communications services regulator Ofcom to use new technology to ban cold calls, number ‘spoofing’, and delay suspicious payments that may impact those who fall victim to scams.

C: Any device that is classified as a ‘sim farm’, which is a device that can be loaded with hundreds of sim cards and be controlled by a computer, will be banned. The use of mass texting services is also set to be reviewed for appropriate regulations.

T: This work will culminate in a new fraud reporting centre that will allegedly replace the current Action Fraud service available to the UK public. They hope to have this new service ‘up and running within the year’. As always, we will keep you updated on any further developments!

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C: On the topic of reviews and regulations, MPs in the UK have heard that vaping products are being “illicitly traded” in school playgrounds. Conservative MP Neil Hudson brought forth several suggestions on how the Government can take further action on discouraging vape use by under 18s, including the recommendation that shops should hide vapes from view, similar to regulations around cigarettes and other tobacco products.

T: Hudson used examples of reports from teachers across the UK who have claimed their students leave lessons and walk out of examinations in order to use their vape. This was done in response to last month’s promise from ministers to identify ways to reduce the number of children and young people using vapes.

C: Youth vaping is a widespread problem for many countries, including Australia, who just announced a ban on recreational vaping in an attempt to curb its teenagers from using e-cigarettes.

T: Some of the risks that can come with Youth Vaping are addiction, developmental issues, gateway behaviours, and a loss of focus that can lead to things like truancy and poor grades.

C: For teachers, parents, and carers who are dealing with this daily, it is so important to know how to address this both in the classroom and at home. To find our more information on Youth Vaping, as well our top tips and further resources, check out our recent article by visiting our website!

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T: Young people using vapes is far from the only issue being faced in schools today. Schools in Northern Ireland have recently come under scrutiny for education about sexual consent “not being good enough”, according to the Education and Training Inspectorate. This report was based on responses that came from over 500 schools and 14,500 pupils.

C: The lack of teaching on contemporary issues has led to what many have claimed is an “inconsistent learning experience” for many children, with some schools actively avoiding topics such as sexual exploitation, domestic abuse, and sexual abuse.

T: Those seem like important topics, especially when you consider the impact that the digital world has on those abuse forms being perpetuated.

C: Exactly, Tyla. Now staff in the report highlighted that they felt there was a lack of training and confidence when it came to teaching about more sensitive topics, with only 44% of schools reporting that they had delivered anything about the topic of consent alone. Schools in Northern Ireland are required by the Department of Education to teach pupils about Relationships and Sex Education. However, the school decides on what is taught within this subject.

T: The ETI are concerned that the children and young people leaving these schools could be doing so “without a clear, unbiased knowledge and understanding of important concepts”, even after the pupils themselves have expressed a desire to learn about more sensitive issues.

C: This concern comes amidst criticisms against the Department of Education for funding cuts across the board due to budget restrictions and reported lower levels of need, including a slash in the funding for schools to receive free period products. These cuts have been a growing concern for families with low incomes who cannot afford necessities for their children.

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C: Well, Tyla, it’s time for our Safeguarding Success Story of the Week!

T: I love this part, Colin!

C: Me too, and this story is truly touching. A UK father who tweeted about his adopted son’s story has gone viral, with his tweets being seen by millions and covered all over the world. He had posted the messages to celebrate 10 years of knowing his son Adrian, who has severe learning disabilities and had lived in a residential home for years before being adopted by his parents.

T: Oh that’s wonderful!

C: Isn’t it? Adrian was also adopted after his parents saw an appeal to find him a weekend foster family. They had to spend months getting to know each other before the adoption process was finalised, but once they did, his parents absolutely fell in love with him, and he officially became a part of their family.

T: And the post was to celebrate a decade of their family?

C: Yes. Adrian’s father thanked him for an “amazing” decade, going on to describe him as “brimming with love, life, and happiness.”

T: Aww! How sweet.

C: I’d call that a safeguarding success story if I’ve ever heard one, wouldn’t you?

T: I would! And it’s just in time too, as next week marks the beginning of Foster Care Fortnight, an annual campaign that helps to raise awareness for fostering and how it transforms lives.

C: Foster care is such an important part of caring for vulnerable children and young people and helping them thrive despite challenging circumstances. We’ll be taking a deeper look at this next week, so make sure to come back to find out more!

T: That’s everything from us for this week. Thank you for listening!

C: Remember, you can follow us on social media by searching for Safer Schools NI. You can also download our Safer Schools NI App for free right now to find loads of resources, guidance, and support on keeping children and young people safer online.

T: We hope you have a great long weekend. Until next time, stay safe!

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