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e-Safety and user monitoring solutions for education and the enterprise

Why you need to monitor how young people use technology

Technology
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

Our lives have certainly been enriched with the advent of technology. In particular, the use of mobile phones have revolutionised our ability to communicate, regardless of time and place. However, although technology provides us with incredible benefits, this doesn’t mean it comes without its drawbacks.

Today, young people are becoming highly addicted to mobile phones. It is this addiction that is driving them away from the “real” world to the “online” world – some of them are obsessed with their online persona, as it gives them a chance to escape reality. This can result in tragedy though. For instance, take a recent case of a 15-year-old girl from north London, who was addicted to the internet and committed suicide, when online users encouraged her to harm herself.

An article published in the Childalert, UK reported that 9 out of 10 children in the UK own a mobile phone. While parents do benefit from the immediate communication they offer – especially considering their busy schedules, in today’s social media generation – a mobile device is not only restricted to ‘calling someone to talk to.’ Thanks to the internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels that are freely available to young people, with a simple click of a button. Teens who spend a lot of time on these social media channels, or on any other technical device, may suffer from depression and anxiety.

Can excessive use of technology really cause depression in teens?

Here is the evidence –  “children who spend more time on computers tend to experience higher levels of emotional distress, anxiety and depression,” suggested Public Health England officials to parents.

Public Health England issues guidance on good health to the NHS, UK. The report further revealed that one in ten children now has a mental health issue and a third of teenagers feel low, sad or down at least once a week.

Additionally, Tablets for Schools conducted a survey where 2,228 students (11-17-year-olds) were monitored and they found that almost 40% of pupils sometimes felt addicted to their internet enabled devices.

How can you tackle this?

It’s important to teach your pupils how to use technology safely. Digital technologies have amazing potential to support young people’s learning, fun and creativity, but you need to help them understand the negative side effects of the internet.

  • Start a dialogue with your pupil about safe use of technology, help them understand why they should stay away from some specific sites.
  • Monitor their hangout places online – get familiar with those websites and allow them to show you their favorite sites.
  • Inform them that they should never give out identifying information about themselves, friends or family members, which includes: names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, passwords and credit card numbers.
  • You must create a technology “inventory” through which you can check whether they have any access to adult programming, or if parental/teacher controls on the internet browser’s software are enabled.
  • Choose an e-safety and user monitoring solution for your school – Securus offers the best system to safeguard your pupils against the wide range of threats they face in the digital age.
  • Advise your pupils to confide in a teacher if they face any type of harassment and bullying online.

 

How is child abuse linked to faith or belief?

Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Religion. One word that has affected humans, in all corners of the world, and throughout all eras of history. Religion is a powerful motivator that has often caused conflict even in diverse and tolerant families.  If you study history, you will discover that religion has played an important role in shaping the course of entire civilisations.

But, what has this got to do with child abuse?

Everything.

According to the Education Select Committee, an increasing number of children in the UK are being harmed in the belief that this will “rid them of the devil.”

“This should be taken as a call to re-energise the national effort to educate communities and professionals, and safeguard all our children,” said Christine Christie from Chanon Consulting. This organisation aims to draw out the principle characteristics of cases of child abuse, linked to faith and belief in the UK.

 

Why Researchers suggest framing new national guidelines for child abuse

Furthermore, Christie says that current research to support this issue, in the form of a National Action Plan to tackle child abuse and a National Guidance on safeguarding children from abuse, is outdated.

 

“The guidance and the research it is based on – is seven years out-of-date. Much has been learned since then. This project provides a unique opportunity to update the research and revise the national guidance,” Christie said.

 

Two other leading academics in the field of spiritual abuse, Dr. Lisa Oakley and Dr. Kathryn Kinmond (from Manchester Metropolitan University), agree with Christie: “there is very little academic evidence in this area and we are looking to provide that.”

 

Mor Dioum from the Victoria Climbe Foundation explains why undertaking the research was highly important for child welfare.

She said: “It is important that we understand the prevalence of this type of abuse to effectively address it at local and national level. It is also important that we continue to undergo research, share and develop best practice to address child abuse of this type, and work together in order to achieve positive outcomes for children and families affected.”

How should teachers be trained to spot faith-based child abuse?

Experts have identified a rising number of children being abused by parents with skewed religious views, which is why teachers and social workers should be trained to identify this type of child abuse.

The UK government released an action plan in 2012 to tackle child abuse linked to faith or belief. For anyone who works in child protection, this plan is for you.

The intention of the plan was to raise awareness of safeguarding and to address the issues of child abuse linked to faith or belief. It also aims to facilitate relationships within, and between, national and faith communities, parents and teachers or guardians to reinforce safeguarding practice. The ultimate objective is to reduce the number of children suffering from abuse at the hands of those who believe in supernatural phenomenon.

Are you concerned that one of your pupils may be experiencing faith or belief-based abuse? Tracking their internet activity is a good way to identify potential victimisation.

Find out more about how you can safeguard your pupils with our e-Safety solutions.

How can a school cope with children who are capable of hacking its systems?

Young man is typing on laptop and looking at screen
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Computers and laptops occupy a desk in almost every child’s home today. Additionally, schools also have a dedicated time assigned exclusively to computers for research purposes.

Easy access to technology has brought many positives to education. But increasingly, schools need to be aware of computer-savvy children whose sophisticated skills could create challenges for their IT systems.

Hacking has its roots back in the 1950s and 1960s and was defined as a person who understands the systems and tries to break them, with good or ill intent, or simply to see if it can be done.

Could one of your pupils be a hacker?

The hacker personality is mainly characterised by “curiosity” about and “passion” for technology. Some other traits are: persistence, technical prowess and innovative ways of perceiving problems. Normally, such traits are considered ‘gifted’ by teachers and parents, which can make it difficult to detect that their teens are gradually dabbling in hi tech crime.

But, here is why this is considered a serious crime:

Even in the case of a teenager, if they ever break into systems (even if not for the purpose of stealing and using information online) they can be prosecuted under the same laws as a terrorist who hacks into systems.

A recent article published by Huffington Post revealed that one in ten (16 to 19-year-old teens) engage in some form of illegal cyber-activity. In fact, the article further reported that over a third of them would be impressed if a friend managed to replace a homepage of a major bank with a cartoon. The survey was conducted with a sample of 1,500 (16 to 19-year-old teens).

It further concluded that teens seek this sort of respect from peers, but many may be naïve about the consequences of their actions.

“I see kids of 11 and 12 sharing credit card details and asking for hacks,” said Chris Boyd, Director of Malware research at FaceTime Security.

Graham Robb, a board member of the Youth Justice Board for Ministry of Justice, UK explains the risks involved in hacking for young people.

“If they get a criminal record it stays with them. A Criminal Record Bureau check will throw that up and it could prevent access to jobs.”

The story of Ryan Cleary who was accused of a hacking attack

In 2011, 19 year-old Ryan Cleary made headlines when he was arrested for hacking the website of the UK’s Serious Organised Crime Agency.

Cleary created a remotely controlled network of zombie computers known as “botnet.” He carried out distributed denial of service attacks using “botnet” that resulted in websites getting flooded with traffic to make them crash. Another similar attack he carried out was against the British Phonographic Industry’s website and the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry’s website.

In 2013, Cleary made news again for all the wrong reasons – he was found with more than 170 indecent images of children, some as young as six months.

Are you concerned that your systems may be susceptible to hackers? Have you implemented e-safety measures in your school? Securus-software not only provides solutions but also partners with schools in safeguarding their pupils online. Follow us on Twitter to get daily updates on e-safety solutions.

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