Parents, teachers and educational leaders are becoming increasingly proactive when it comes to e-Safety and its measures. Wise use of the Internet is bridging the gap between parents’ concerns and children’s demand for liberal use.
The Internet is the most preferred hub for freedom of speech and self-publication. The UK government has therefore launched a number of polices for e-Safety to counter concerns that include cyberbullying, sexual abuse, and extremism. Extremism is particularly challenging to investigate because there is no accountability per se and the ideology is imparted in an indirect manner, through non-verbal communication and images that can evoke undesirable psychological responses. Nonetheless, we can look for valid solutions through appropriate awareness.
Here are some pointers for applying appropriate monitoring strategies:
Users who encounter racially inflammatory material can report it directly to the Police. Responsible officials will further review and assess the material in a systematic manner. The government’s Home Office counter-terrorism Internet referral unit received 2,025 complaints regarding extremist content. Consequently, about 10% of the offending web pages were taken down by the authorities.
Safeguarding through open discussions
Teenagers often come across extremist content while searching for other information online. This content is then repeatedly disseminated to them through pop-ups or reminders. To help youngsters deal with this type of content effectively, we can talk to them about the possible consequences at an early stage to make them more aware. Also, it is helpful to maintain an open dialogue with children about what they like to do online, so they feel safe to disclose any unpleasant experiences.
Surveillance versus blocking
It is advisable that we review and supervise the content accessed by children, rather than simply blocking websites because over blocking may cause them to lose out on important information. We need to have a variety of checks in place – is the content age appropriate? Are personal devices (used in schools, libraries) set in line with the regulations? Are the safety filters functioning optimally to give prompt alerts? And, are the monitoring system retaining the accessed data appropriately to revive or review for later use?
Here, former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan explains that the government has launched the Educate Against Hate website. This practically advises e and supports parents, teachers and school leaders on protection strategies against extremism.
One way to ensure online safety is to implement appropriate systems to monitor and filter online content accessed by children. A survey on management of Internet access in UK public libraries revealed that all public library authorities used filtering software to ensure safer usage.
We are here to help you facilitate safe and secure online usage for your children; contact us to find out more about how we can assist you.