Last Updated on 16th September 2022

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Welcome to this week’s Safeguarding Soundbites – the virtual place to get news and updates about the online space! Today, I’ll be bringing you the past week’s top stories on safeguarding, and sharing what our online safety experts here at Ineqe Safeguarding Group have been up to. I’m Colin Stitt, head of Safer Schools – let’s get started!

Now, these days, most people are aware of potential scams being received through their emails and text messages, but did you know that it’s possible to be targeted through instant messaging services like WhatsApp? The so-called ‘Hi Mum’ scam is one that’s been rising in popularity recently, now, we all know someone that’s broken or lost their phone and had to get a new number – you might even know someone that seems to be doing that constantly! – and that’s exactly what the ‘hi mum’ scammers are banking on. Read more in our scam alert that went out this week on our website saferschoolsni.co.uk.

The latest iOS16 update was released this week. With new updates and features that are aimed at helping users be safer when using Apple devices, our online safety experts took a look and reviewed the new additions. You can find out more on saferschoolsni.co.uk.

Now, Apple have also pushed out five security fixes, including two for iPhones, iPads and Macs after being alerted by anonymous bug hunters who test out systems for vulnerabilities. Apple haven’t released any further details about the fixes or explained how they may be exploited by cybercriminals.

Also in the news a new report by the Wall Street Journal has found a drop in usage of Facebook and Instagram, with a drop of 13.6% engagement with Instagram reels in the past few months. TikTok users, however, are spending a whopping ten times as many hours as that on the app.

Now the popular gaming platform Roblox has announced that they’re going to add age guidelines to its games, alongside expanding its revenue streams and their plans to appeal to an older audience. Games will be rated in three different tiers: 9 years old and up, 13 years old and up, and a tier suitable for all ages.

YouTube are launching an ad-free video player for creators and institutions that are making content for educational purposes. The video player will remove adverts, external links and recommended videos so that viewers can avoid distractions and unwanted videos.

YouTube are also in the news for far less positive reasons, after an investigation by a company called Bot Sentinel found nearly 24 channels which violated YouTube policies but were still allowed to post. The channels in question were said to be promoting hate, racism and misogyny and had high audience engagement, with the investigating company claiming that YouTube hadn’t taken further action on these channels due to their advertising profit.

Here in Northern Ireland, a teenage girl has lost her bid to have the pupil who assaulted her expelled from their school. A judge ruled that while the attack was callous and malicious, it was not the court’s place to manage discipline in schools.

That’s all from me for today, I’ll be back again next week with more news and updates. In the meantime, you can stay up to date with all our safeguarding advice and guidance, and get access to a wealth of resources and articles by downloading our free Safer Schools NI App in partnership with the Department of Education. Make sure to follow us on socials by searching for ‘safer schools NI’ and until next time, stay safe!

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