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Understand Principles of Online Safety in Care Settings

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

Being online has several benefits. It provides facilities for video-calling with family and friends, discussions between groups of individuals with special interests, fast access to information and learning and streaming entertainment. These channels of communication can promote independence, social interaction and self-image, which can result in an increased sense of wellbeing for individuals.

However, with the exponential rise of the Internet, vulnerable adults are now much more likely to be victims of abuse through online activity so it is important that you have an awareness of the potential risks.

The table below lists some of the possible risks of using Internet-related technologies as well as practical ways to reduce them:

ActivityRisksWays to reduce risk
Use of electronic communication devices e.g. mobile phones, tablets etc.Harrassment
Manipulation
Cyber-bullying
Grooming
Blackmail
Viruses
Hacking
Educate individuals on how to protect themselves
Maintaining communication channels between individuals, their family and care workers
Use of security software
Individuals knowing where they can obtain help and advice from
Use of the InternetPotential to break the law by accessing illegal material
Viewing of upsetting material e.g. pornography or violence
Extremism/radicalisation
Unwise purchases via online ads/in-app purchases/gambling websites
Educate individuals on how to protect themselves
Maintaining communication channels between individuals, their family and care workers
Individuals knowing where they can obtain help and advice from
Use of social networking sitesHarrassment
Manipulation
Cyber-bullying
Grooming
Blackmail
Educate individuals on how to protect themselves
Maintaining communication channels between individuals, their family and care workers
Individuals knowing where they can obtain help and advice from
Carrying out financial transactionsFraud
Scams
Unwittingly or being coerced into transferring monies to unscrupulous individuals
Education
Only performing financial transactions in the presence of trusted persons

As you can see, there are several risks associated with online activity, however, it is important to remember that unless there are exceptional circumstances, individuals have the right to make their own choices and take risks if they wish to do so.

So these risks must be balanced against an individuals rights and the benefits of using electronic systems and devices. Just because an individual is vulnerable, it does not mean that they should be denied access to technology.

Risk assessments completed in collaboration with the individual can give an idea of the likelihood and severity of the risks as well as the opportunity to identify ways of mitigating them.

For example, an individual that has been manipulated by others in the past may want to have a Facebook account to keep in contact with friends and family however there is a risk that they may be discovered by some of the people from their past. The risk of this happening could be reduced by ensuring that their Facebook profile is set to private and other privacy settings are enabled.