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Unlocking some interesting myths about e-Safety

Interesting myths
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

It can be difficult to verify stories that circulate regarding the safety of children online.

EU Kids Online surveyed 25,000 children and their parents across Europe. Their research revealed some interesting myths associated with potential risks facing children online.

Professor Sonia Livingstone, who headed the project said: “Often people don’t appreciate that the digital world brings both risks and opportunities for young people, or that risk isn’t automatically a bad thing as it may give children a chance to learn how to cope and become resilient. It’s only by understanding and balancing these things that we’ll be able to give children the practical help they need to get the best from the Internet.”

She also added: “The work our team of researchers has done offers governments, parents and teachers the most comprehensive insight yet into how to help.”

Here are some interesting myths about e-Safety

Digital natives know it all

Only 36 percent of 9-16-year-olds agreed that they know more about the Internet than their parents.

Everyone creates their own content

The above study revealed that only one in five children have recently used a file-sharing site, whereas only half that number have started a blog. This means most children use the Internet for ready-made content.

Children under the age of 13 cannot use social networking sites

Even though many social networking sites have set up age limits for signing up, the research shows that age limits don’t work – 38 percent of 9-12-year-olds have an online profile.

Online Pornography is popular among young people

This myth is partly created by media hype says the study, as only one in seven children viewed sexual images online.

Bullies are villains

Interestingly, the study showed that 60 percent who bully (online or offline) have been bullied in the past. Bullies and victims are often the same people.

People you meet on the Internet are strangers

Children are familiar with most of their online contacts. Only nine percent met new online contacts offline. The majority didn’t go alone and just one percent had a bad experience.

Offline risks migrate online

Only children who lead risky offline lives are more likely to expose themselves to danger online. Similarly, it can’t be assumed that those who are low-risk offline are safe online either.

Placing the computer in the living room will help to keep children safe

This advice is out of date, as children can easily go online at a friend’s house or on a smartphone. It is advisable for parents to talk to their children about their Internet habits.

Children can get around safety software

Surprisingly, one in three 11-16-year-olds say they can change filter preferences. Most of them also said that the actions their parents take to limit their Internet activity are helpful.

In the words of Stephen Hawking: “We are all now connected by the Internet, like neurons in a giant brain.”

Would you like to find out more about e-Safety? Contact Securus today.

Help students differentiate between positive and negative peer influence

Peer influence
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

Children spend many of their waking hours at school or engaged in extra-curricular activities and in doing so, they foster bonds with their peers. A recent article in The Daily Telegraph pointed out that a child’s friends have a significant impact on their behaviour. It further stated that popular culture, friends, and street gangs had a greater influence than their genetic make-up or the lessons they learnt at home.

With such a great influence exerted by peers, it is important for parents and teachers to safeguard children from steering towards bad behaviour. Illicit drug abuse is a particular concern. Although statistics show there has been a fall in the prevalence of drug use among students, the problem still exists. Research  also suggests that boys are generally more susceptible to drug use than girls.

In an earlier article, we have discussed how schools can create a safe and drug-free environment and the onus lies with teachers to educate students about good and negative peer influence.

Students need to be accepted at school and mix with friends. They tend to be influenced by the attitudes and lifestyles of their peers. It is normal for them to do things in their social circle which help them feel valued.  However, it is not wise to follow one’s friends blindly.

Peer influence can have negative effects

In their need to be accepted by their friends, students can often indulge in behaviours they are not comfortable with.  At a young and vulnerable age, they may fail to understand the impact of giving in to peer pressure. Help them to look out for the following signs:

Wrong decisions

Explain to children that when they feel compelled to do something they dislike, it is a bad sign. An example could be taking up a hobby or activity just because their peers do, without much thought to where their own interests lie.

Cultivation of bad habits

Peer pressure is powerful. It can force young people to do things they are not comfortable with.  It can bring about a change in attitude and lifestyle. Vey often, peer influence is the main reason why students take up drug use, alcohol, and smoking.

Loss of individuality

Peer influence may compel students to follow everything their peers do, adopting their fashion sense, hairstyle, and so on. This can lead to a child losing their originality.

Peer influence can be positive too!

Peer influence can bring about positive changes.

Adopting good habits

Peers can help others change for the better. For example, knowing that their friends are avid readers can encourage students to read and people who play sports very often inspire their friends to join in.

Losing bad habits

Peer influence can also deter other students from experimenting with drugs. Students may be persuaded to turn over a new leaf when their peers frown upon their bad habits or tell them about the damage drugs can cause.

The bottom line

Students should be made aware that the difference between positive and negative peer influence is all about the outcome and intention. If a student is convinced to do something which turns out to be good for them, the peer influence is positive. And if they are pressurised to make an unhealthy choice, the peer influence is negative.

Similarly, students need to be made aware of digital peer influence. The principles of offline peer influence apply to the online world as well.

To help protect students from negative influences online, get in touch with us today!

How to address cultural diversity in the classroom?

Cultural Diversity
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Cultural multiplicity and richness enhances the overall learning experience in all areas of life.  In schools, students get the opportunity to mix and work with, and understand others who may be very different from them. Such heterogeneity creates an atmosphere of acceptance and children learn to function in a diverse multicultural and multiethnic environment.

The role of educators and parents in creating a positive environment within the classroom is of utmost importance. If they promote the idea of equality and diversity in a manner that children understand, it will help them to appreciate unique cultural differences, and learn to cherish these, rather than judge them.  Children need to be introduced to the concept of equality and multiculturalism from an early age. A number of teaching methods can be employed to ensure you build an inclusive environment within the classroom. Listed below are a few approaches that can be effective in addressing cultural diversity in the classroom.

Use of diversity in teaching resources

The resources used in the teaching process must include examples from different cultures. If you acquaint students with the concept of diversity through stories, posters and pictures of people from varied cultures, this may help to imbibe a sense of acceptance. Children realise that such differences are normal and not something to approach with fear or apprehension. Populate wall spaces with pictures and information about people from different ethnic backgrounds this will encourage better understanding of the many races and groups that exist in the world.

Activities and integration weeks

Hosting weeks dedicated to particular themes or a culture is an interesting way to introduce children to the idea of diversity. Stories about traditions, festivals and food can be shared during these events. The knowledge and concepts acquired through these activities can be incorporated in other areas of the curriculum to reinforce the idea.

Discussions and debates

Exchanging and discussing ideas about diversity is another effective tool for creating an atmosphere of equality. Kids should be given the opportunity to express their ideas about diversity. Any negative attitude or thought must be discussed. Parents and educators must ensure that children feel comfortable to discuss or report any incidents of discrimination. Building a strong bond in the classroom makes a student feel valued – a sense of belonging develops and they are able to discuss their concerns openly.

The Equality Act of 2010 brings out the legal responsibilities of public bodies including schools to promote equality. Here are Guidelines regarding  equality and inclusion that schools must adhere to. This must not merely be limited to ensuring that discrimination of any form is not practised; rather, attempts should also be made to imbibe healthy values within children.

Another essential goal for building a culturally responsive education system is to encourage children to appreciate their culture. Children from minority ethnic groups may feel pressured to adopt new cultural norms and traditions. However, it’s important to preserve one’s own culture while respecting and accepting others’. A broad and structured approach with emphasis on acceptance and respect can help build an inclusive education system.

Racial discrimination may also take the form of cyber bullying or cyber racism. Schools can employ e-safety solutions to deal effectively with these issues. To find out more about e-Safety solutions, follow Securus Software on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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