SCHOOLS in Mid Devon are working with a multi-agency group to encourage young people to act responsibly on social media.

Local group Inform on Social Media has grown dramatically across Mid Devon, into East Devon and Exeter, as they try to educate young people on the dangers of irresponsible behaviour on the internet.

Increasingly the police, schools and colleges are dealing with worrying reports of incidents involving use of the internet - and particularly social networking sites.

Often issues are spilling out of the virtual world of the internet and causing a negative impact on people which is keenly felt in the real world.

Julia Ryder, Community Safety Officer said: “Too many young people are getting into trouble by sharing sexually explicit images of themselves or getting into arguments and bullying through social media sites and text messaging. Young people tend to live for the moment and don't always realise that once they have posted an image or a statement then it is basically 'out there' for the world to see and read forever. Many aren't aware that their future employment and travel plans may be seriously affected by such activities”.

The East & Mid Community Safety Partnership has made this a priority area of work following a continual rise in incidents reported by both school and police staff.

A statement from Cullompton Community College said: “At Cullompton Community College we recognise the importance of keeping children safe. We train staff to raise their awareness of essential safeguarding procedures and we work hard to educate our students to be responsible users of social media. Developing technologies present massive opportunities for learning in new and exciting ways but with access to the world-wide web it is also essential that young people understand how to use technology wisely.”