NSPCC join forces with Common Sense Media to help keep children safe online

A new partnership has been formed between NSPCC and Common Sense Media as young people have been in contact Childline about AI related sexual abuse, bullying and misinformation.

Both the NSPCC and Common Sense Media are keen to help keep children safe online and begin to (better) understand the impact of generative AI on children. Most of the messages to Childline on this area have involved the generation of child sexual abuse images or videos, or the threat to make them with blackmail/financial extortion. There were also some examples of young people sending “fake images” they had made themselves. Plus a few mentions of ChatGPT, usually from young people seeking information or reassurance about something they’d seen online.

The new partnership was announced on the Bett UK Conference main stage at the ExCel Centre last week in London and at this week’s The Common Sense Summit on Kids and Families in San Francisco.

Tuis new partnership has arisen as children have been reaching out to Childline for support on AI risks such as sexual abuse and bullying. This partnership further builds on Common Sense Media’s new AI ratings system.

With that in mind the NSPCC have decided to partner with the leading children’s advocacy organisation in the US, Common Sense Media. There aims are to put child safety and wellbeing at the heart of tech decision-making, including the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI).

One 15-year-old girl told Childline:

“A stranger online has made fake nudes of me. It looks so real, it’s my face and my room in the background. They must have taken the pictures from my Instagram and edited them. I’m so scared they will send them to my parents, the pictures are really convincing, and I don’t think they’d believe me that they’re fake.”

This new partnership will advocate for children by making sure their experiences and safety are central to decision-making by tech companies and regulators, as well as at the front of global policymakers minds.

Collectively they will also be delivering education programmes to increase digital literacy skills in schools, as well as sharing a joint approach to research in order to improve the global understanding of the impact of generative AI on children.

The partnership begins with a pilot to help school leaders teach children invaluable lessons about navigating the constantly evolving tech landscape in which they live. The aim to deliver best-in-class, age-appropriate digital and AI literacy lessons to children across the UK and respond to urgent policy challenges for children in the US, Europe and beyond.

NSPCC Chief Executive Sir Peter Wanless said:

“As one of the leading voices helping to achieve the Online Safety Act in the UK, we have long acknowledged the need for global collaboration by Governments, civil society and tech firms to drive children’s safety online.

This cannot be clearer than in AI where a rush to gleam the significant benefits of technology has led to worldwide concerns about the danger it can also pose.

The risk children face from unregulated and unsafe AI is already far too high, and their safety and experiences must be at the centre of conversations about its development and regulations. This partnership will seek to do that while also empowering young people with digital literacy skills to help them thrive.”

James P. Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media, said:

“To safely and responsibly harness the potential of AI for children, global organisations must work together to ensure that the government and private sector have children’s best interests at heart for all technology design, development, and deployment.

The NSPCC, and the UK more broadly, is seeing great progress by activating its educators, parents, and policymakers, and we look forward to amplifying their efforts in the U.S. and globally.”

Lord Ed Vaizey of Didcot, Chair of Common Sense Media UK, said:

“With the NSPCC, Common Sense Media UK couldn’t have found a better partner to scale its mission and vision for children. Child advocacy is at the heart of everything we do. Collaborating with the UK’s leading child advocate will accelerate our common cause to keep children safe online, particularly in interacting with emerging AI technology.”

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