Letters, August 5 2022

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Keeping children safe online in new ‘3D internet’

It can be difficult for parents and carers to keep up with online technology because it changes so quickly, but it’s something that children and young people deal with every day.

There has been lots of news about the metaverse being the next big development in online technology.

The metaverse is an online environment where users can take part in activities which they might already enjoy offline or in the ‘real world’.

For example, people can go shopping, have dinner or watch a film at a virtual cinema. Some experts call it a ‘3D internet’.

Companies use technology to allow users to access the metaverse using a headset to create a more immersive ‘real-life experience’.

The NSPCC is concerned that there’s no age-assurance in the metaverse, so anyone can go online and pretend to be younger or older than they really are.

This makes it easier for children to access inappropriate material or digital environments where they could be at risk, and easier for online offenders to groom, bully or abuse children.

When it comes to ensuring your child is safe online, talking with them regularly about their online life means they will feel relaxed about telling you if they do have any worries.

You can also ask them who they are talking to online. If it’s people they don’t know offline, don’t get angry, just remind them that not everyone online is who they say they are and they should never arrange to meet someone offline without telling you first.

Using parental controls and, for younger children, keeping gaming devices and computers in family spaces will also help to keep them safe.

For more information visit the NSPCC website.

If you are concerned about a child, contact the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk.

Children can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or visit www.childline.org.uk.

Gail Sayles, local campaigns manager, NSPCC Scotland.

Proclaimers set walking challenge for Argyll residents

You don’t have to walk 500 miles to raise funds for Mary’s Meals this summer.

The Proclaimers famously sang about walking 500 miles, and now the musical brothers are asking people in Argyll and Bute to take on their own walking challenge to help Mary’s Meals feed hungry children.

Craig and Charlie Reid are calling for residents to take part in the charity’s Move for Meals campaign, which encourages people to raise sponsorship while getting active.

Mary’s Meals serves nutritious school meals in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The promise of a good meal attracts hungry children to the classroom, giving them the energy to learn and hope for a brighter future.

Today, we face some of our greatest challenges yet in a world devastated by conflict, food insecurity and the cost of living crisis.

It is easy to feel hopeless when faced with so much suffering. But every single thing that people do for our mission makes an enormous difference to the children who eat Mary’s Meals.

To find out more, please visit marysmeals.org.uk/move-for-meals.

Dan McNally, head of grassroots engagement, Mary’s Meals.