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

e-Safety – the balance between filtering and monitoring

Filtering and monitoring
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

As schools continue to reap the benefits of technology in the classroom they are also required to have reliable and robust filtering and monitoring systems in place. Some educational establishments have concerns about how they will implement e-Safety, especially as the government has recently made it mandatory. However, this needn’t be a difficult task to achieve. Here we outline what you need to know about filtering and monitoring.

Filtering and monitoring content – what is the difference?

A Filter is a piece of software that prevents illegal and inappropriate content from being accessed, and makes sure that children use the internet for the right purposes only. Modern filters are quite sophisticated and can successfully block dubious sites from passing through. There is a catch here though. A filter could end up blocking perfectly acceptable sites, if it comes across particular words that have been identified as objectionable.  Administrators can remove blocked sites from a filter’s blacklist, but it is a rather tedious and time consuming process.

With only a filtering system in place, students can be prevented from accessing certain sites, but the attempt to visit them would go largely unreported. The only way to keep track would be to manually check the browsing history of each student, which is not a practical method.

Monitoring, on the other hand is more of a reporting strategy – it tracks browsing activities of the students and records details of any inappropriate access on any part of the school network.  Monitoring ensures that pupils use the Internet for the purpose they are supposed to, as well as gaining deeper insights into their topics of study and remaining in touch with their teachers to discuss assignments. Therefore, monitoring will not prevent access but will alert the authorities about an attempt to access inappropriate sites. This helps schools keep an eye on any potential misuse of the Internet and deters students from using the school network for anything that isn’t relevant to their studies.

Why a combination of filtering and monitoring works best for schools

e-Safety aims to safeguard the privacy and wellbeing of pupils while they use technology in school, at the same time giving them enough freedom to benefit from it. The best way to achieve this is by using a combination of filtering and monitoring. Both methods can work together to block inappropriate sites and report any attempts to access them.

Securus has been instrumental in safeguarding young people online in the UK.  Our software effectively tracks all online activity and reports any violations of a school’s Acceptable Use Policy.  Since 2002, Securus has helped more than 3,500 educational establishments provide their pupils with the use of a secure and reliable network that allows them to enjoy the advantages of staying connected with the online world, without compromising their safety.

All you need to know about e-Safety

e-Safety
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

With children as young as three using computers today, it is vitally important that e-Safety is implemented as early as possible. So, what exactly is e-Safety and why is it so important?

 e-Safety is about helping children identify the potential dangers of the Internet without deterring them from using it to its best advantage. With the correct e-Safety tools at their fingertips, children will be empowered to identify any unethical behaviour and reduce the likelihood of becoming victims of cyber abuse or bullying.

Enforcing e-Safety among children and encouraging positive habits while interacting online

 Here are a few guidelines parents and teachers could follow to instil e-Safety habits in children. It goes without saying that every situation is unique and therefore you need to decide what is best for you and your child, based on your circumstances.

  • Supervision

It is recommended that children under the age of 12 should be supervised at all times whilst using the Internet. This is the best way to ensure they develop a healthy attitude to using technology in a responsible manner.

  • Setting ground rules

These should be followed every time they are online. These ground rules could include:

  • Never post private information (name, address or telephone number) on any public platform.
  • Never send photos of themselves to anyone they don’t know, and in general, avoid posting photos online until they are old enough.
  • Never give out passwords to anyone, even trusted friends.
  • Never interact with strangers online, let parents/teachers know if they suspect anything is amiss.
  • Always ask permission before installing or downloading anything on the computer to prevent malware that could cause the system to crash or compromise the security of your data.
  • Ensure that your child views what is appropriate for their age

Setting parental filters is the best way to make sure that your children only get access to content that is suitable for their age. These filters block offensive sites and prevent your child from accidentally stumbling upon inappropriate sites. Please click here to find out more about how to protect your child with parental controls.

  • Communicate with your child

Have ongoing discussions with your child about the consequences of irresponsible online behaviour and how it can affect their life. Help them to understand that there is often a thin line between what’s acceptable and what is not and that they need to remain vigilant at all times, to ensure that they are not crossing that line.

If you would like to know more about e-Safety or safeguarding children in the digital space, then join the conversation on Twitter and connect with us on LinkedIn.

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.

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