Educating young people to be safe online
There are many, many positive aspects to children using the Internet. When we become aware of the possible problems, we should not panic and withdraw all access. A responsible, caring attitude will ensure that the problem does not merely get ‘shifted’ somewhere else. If we can educate young people to be sensible, careful users of the Internet, we will be better preparing them for the future. This page looks at student's use of the Internet and suggests some sources for further advice and help.
Internet safety is being targeted by the Government as a major issue for the curriculum. Sadly, much of the reporting suggests that nothing is being done by schools at the moment. Nothing could be further from the truth. At Thomas Hardye and in DASP we have been taking e-safety seriously for a number of years. In fact, across Dorset a multi-agency approach of schools, County and Police have been tackling the issues very effectively for some time. All of these work as part of the Dorset Safeguarding Children Board; who also have a specialist sub group responsible for Cybersafety.
Thomas Hardye has a panel of students who meet with representatives of the Cybersafe group and give a young person’s perspective on these issues. Jeff Grey, the Internet Safety Officer for Dorset Police, has addressed assemblies from every year at our school on e-safety issues. . He has also made presentations to parents recently. For those who were unable to be there, we have an edited video of his presentation available to view here (note this is a 90Mb file and just under 30 minutes long). However, should you get the chance to attend one of Jeff’s presentations in the future we would very much recommend it. Technological developments are moving the goalposts all the time and Jeff will always be adding to his advice.
Important information regarding Snapchat Privacy
In 2018 Snapchat released an update that impacted all users. The update included a map which plots all users of Snapchat, this can be zoomed in to and locations of users clearly identified. These users don’t even need to be your friends for them to see your last location. People have access to see everyone.
Student users of Snapchat should restrict their settings so that they are not visible on the location map to maintain their online security.
In order to remove a user from this feature you should go to your settings and enable Ghost Mode. You will also need to change your Avatar to Ghost Mode. To access the map you need to pinch the screen and this will give you the option to set yourself to private, not public.
UK Council for Internet Safety
The UK Council for Internet Safety (UKCIS) is a collaborative forum through which government, the tech community and the third sector work together to ensure the UK is the safest place in the world to be online.
Raising Young People’s Awareness of Their ‘Digital Footprint’
The link below takes you to a set of excellent resources designed to raise youngsters’ awareness of their digital footprint and staying safe online. The resources are designed for schools, but are also very suitable for use by parents who wish to develop their own knowledge and/or discuss these issues with their children.Teaching Students about their Digital Footprint
The main areas of concern for us are the Social Networking sites, as these are the fastest growing area of Internet use by young people and ‘cyberbullying’. Children should be aware of this button on web pages which allows them to report instances of abuse on the Internet, (note: on this page, this image is for illustration purposes only).
Social Networking Sites
These sites allow children to communicate and share interests. They can set up groups of like minded people (for example fans of a particular band).
Users can upload photos of themselves to their page. Social Networking sites allow children to display creativity, as well as develop IT skills.
Facebook is currently the most widely used, but others include:
- Instagram - Users can upload photos and videos to their feed
- TikTok - Users can upload and view short videos up to 60 seconds long
- YouTube - Users can upload videos to this space
- Snapchat - A direct messaging app, users can send photos and videos to each other that expire a short time after being viewed
- Twitter - Users can create posts up to 280 characters and follow others
Most of the services above have a starting age limit of 13, but this is easily subverted by children. Usually these sites will allow users to hide personal information, however the user may have to choose to implement this, otherwise information remains public..
The Danger: Young people, whilst being technically very savvy, may be over confident and not careful about who they share information with. They sometimes do not appreciate the ‘public’ nature of Social Networking websites. They may leave themselves open to abusers and they cannot be sure that it is a young person they are communicating with. Some sites considered safe have had problems of adults pretending to be children, so care is needed. The amount of personal information they make available can help someone build up a profile about them. These sites can also be a contributing factor in identity theft.
For more detailed advice, please visit the thinkuknow website and select the appropriate age range.
Cyber bullying is an element of bullying itself and not a separate issue. It is a relatively new concept, but is growing fast. It can be done via computer e-mail, chatrooms, forums or texting on a mobile. In a survey, 20% of children say they have been the subject of cyber bullying (14% by texting). 11% admitted sending threatening messages.
Cyber bullying tends to be more common outside, than inside school. A third of victims don’t tell anyone about what has happened. Some studies indicate that girls use texting for bullying, far more than boys do. Social Networking sites are also being used for bullying, with hate messages and images. With cyber bullying there is no place to hide. With ‘traditional’ bullying the victim can at least go home and hopefully feel safe. Cyber bullying comes into the home and cannot be escaped.
Because of the remote nature of this bullying, it can be more widespread, as the perpetrator doesn’t really think about the consequences of their actions, because they are not face to face with the victim. They may also believe, mistakenly, they have some anonymity through the technology. Frequently, the situation that leads to the bullying will begin in school. However, just removing or banning the technology doesn’t solve the problem, just moves it somewhere else. Education about the consequences of cyber bullying will be more effective.
See this powerful video about the effects of Cyberbullying: Let's Fight it Together
Useful Sites & Documents
Safer Schools and Communities Team
|Online Safety Newsletter Autumn (For Parents) 2019||1,391 KB|
|Online Safety Newsletter Spring (For Parents) 2019||612 KB|
|Online Safety Newsletter Summer (For Parents) 2017||807 KB|
|Safe Schools & Communities Team site|
Information from Safer Internet Day 2018
But do remember, educating for careful use will be far more effective than banning or removing internet access!