The Internet has enabled young people to explore, connect, create and learn in ways never imagined before. It has, in fact, given us all immense power. It has often been said that “with great power comes great responsibility.” So how can we ensure our children are using this power responsibly? The answer is e-Safety education.
e-Safety is constantly evolving. One company that has been instrumental in safeguarding young people online in the UK is Securus, the leading e-Safety solution for schools and colleges. Securus monitors all computer-based activities, both within and outside of places of learning, and alerts school authorities to anything that suggests a child may be at risk or is breaching acceptable use policies. Since 2002, more than 3,500 educational establishments have enjoyed the benefits Securus provides, by identifying and preventing thousands of online threats to children every day.
One major concern raised recently by the government is cyberbullying. A staggering 69% of all school age children report having been bullied, with a large proportion taking the form of cyberbullying. It is not just the children who suffer, however. A guide released by the Department for Education reveals that 21% of teachers have reported derogatory comments posted about them by children on social media sites. Read our blog to delve a bit deeper into cyberbullying.
e-Safety guidelines for teachers
In November 2013, the Guardian published an article, which reported that schools play a very important role in confronting online abuse. A majority of teachers feel that schools should improve their levels of online safety education.
How can schools help keep students safe online?
Quiz – You could use a quiz to emphasise the importance of using strong passwords for online security. For example: what was your first pet’s name? What is your date of birth? What is your email address? Or, what is your favourite film? After you obtain the answers, tell them that you now have the information to retrieve their passwords. Encourage them to make the connection between these questions and regularly asked security questions online, and teach them techniques to make the information more secure.
School policy – many schools have embraced e-Safety, but how many of them consider e-Safety education to be mandatory in their schools? Ensure that school networks operate like home networks – they should be open and trusted, but with regular monitoring and honest discussion when breaches are made. Additionally, teach your pupils how to use online tools effectively for personal use, education and socialising. Also, help them develop critical thinking skills around all aspects of being online.
Involve older students – peer education is one of the most positive ways to build awareness on e-Safety. Elect a group of older pupils, and provide them with in depth training to enable them to become e-Safety ambassadors who can train students, staff and parents. Here is what e-Safety advisor specialist, Alan Mackenzie has to say about this approach: “The students were particularly responsive to this approach as the advice was practical, realistic and relevant. There were no mentions of dated social networking sites or advice of the ‘don’t meet online friends’ nature, which often typify the traditional e-Safety one-off assemblies.”
Engage parents – e-Safety discussions should be part of the school curriculum and not just something spoken about at an annual event. Families should be encouraged to participate, e-Safety is, after all, a shared responsibility. There should be regular and open communication with families, where parents can be educated on e-Safety, covering such topics as using filters, parental controls and home computer security. To learn more about how to protect children using parental controls, read our blog.
Be positive – When talking to youngsters about the Internet, show them its positive aspects as well as its dangers. Do not start any discussion on e-Safety in a manner that could scare them and always emphasise using the Internet carefully and responsibly.
The e-Safety tools available today should help us to feel positive about technology. How positive are you?