Teaching e-safety

In today’s world there is no escaping the internet and all the advantages, as well as disadvantages, that it brings with it. It is inevitable that the children we’ll be teaching will have come in touch with technology in the very first years of their lives and it should not be discouraged. Instead, just as we do with many other possible dangers that children are faced with, we should teach them how to be safe. Children participating in the Byron review said:

“Kids don’t need protection we need guidance. If you protect us you are making us weaker. We don’t go through all the trial and error necessary to learn what we need to survive on our own… don’t fight our battles for us just give us assistance when we need it.Byron Review, 2008

This really got me thinking about these issues and how they might affect me as a teacher in my daily practice. There are many issues with the internet we as adults are aware of – there is inappropriate content, children can be approached by people who might pose danger to their safety as well as be part of the e-commerce. However, we need to be aware that just as the internet and its use changes at dramatic speeds, so do its dangers. As teachers we need to be in tune with what children do on the internet and most importantly learn to listen to our pupils in order to be able to pick up new risks they’re facing on-line (Livingstone et al. 2007).

At the school I’m placed at every single child has got an iPad that is owned by the school. Children are often using the technology to do their research in literacy, teachers use it as an assessment for learning tool, but also as a behaviour incentive. Children are allowed to take their iPads home with them if their behaviour was good that day. They are allowed to have up to 4 apps of their choice on their tablets, however, they are not allowed to access these at school. Also, a lot of websites are inaccessible and children are blocked from using them. Whilst this is a good approach, questions have been raised over its ability to empower children to be able to protect themselves (Allen,2012) .

The most valuable thing that we as teachers can do is to create a classroom environment in which children are not afraid to share and report the things they saw online which made them uncomfortable. This will promote the sort of attitudes that we want children to adopt not only when using the internet, but generally as they grow into responsible citizens (Allen, 2012).

How can we create such culture? This goes beyond hanging posters promoting being safe online (like the one below, which you can find in every classroom in my school).

SMART

Firstly, I think such proactive interventions should be taken from a very young age. For KS1 children we could use fun videos such as those found on thinkuknow.co.uk. With older children, we could play games such as this one – it is a fun way to introduce safety online and raise issues of safety in a non-threatening way. Websites such as this can also help children develop skills that they might need when faced with a threatening content. For upper KS2 this video sends a powerful message:

It is a part of the Teachers’ Standards to create a safe environment for our pupils (TS1) and these pre-emptive approaches to safety can help us with that. However, it is important to remember that pre-empting the issues will not make them disappear. It is important for teachers to respond to incidents in a professional, decisive manner (TS 7 – acting decisively when necessary). Should anything happen we should know how to respond  appropriately, for example by reporting incidents to the School Management, informing the parents, speaking to the pupils, but most importantly do it all with the child’s wellbeing in mind.

References (where links not provided):

Allen, J. (2012) Primary ICT: knowledge, understanding and practice. London: SAGE

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One thought on “Teaching e-safety

  1. E-safety refers to the way that young people (between the ages of 5 and 18) are taught about risks online, how they can protect themselves, and to whom they should report worrying activity (Barnard-Wills, 2012).
    The use of the internet is such a great resource and is an essential element in 21st century life for education, business and social interaction. Every school has a duty to provide students with quality Internet access as part of their learning experience. The main conclusion drawn from the Byron review (2008) was that children wanted guidance on how to use sites safely. It’s not about limiting children’s usage of the internet; it’s about empowering children to keep themselves safe online. Blocking, filtering, and banning sites only put children at more risk.

    Risks

    In our lecture Keith introduced us to the risks that children can experience online, namely the three C’s of contact, content and commercialism; contact (online grooming, cyber-bullying and social networking), content (inappropriate sites, pro anna/pro mia) and commercialism (e-commerce, privacy, junk email, premium rate services). I was already aware of the dangers posed by contact and commercialism but had not ever considered the dangers to children from coming across inappropriate sites. Keith demonstrated how easily a google search about healthy eating, a project many primary aged children would research, could lead them to really inappropriate material on pro anorexia. And also how a search for information about Martin Luther King resulted in what initially looked like a legitimate informative website, but was actually promoting white supremacy and racism. As teachers, we can make children aware of the risks posed by the three c’s; this could sensitively be incorporated into PSHE lessons, with the aid of videos and games. As Karolina mentioned in her blog post, it is so important to create a supportive classroom environment and build the trust of your pupils so they feel able to share and report any concerns they may have with you.

    Protection

    The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) produce the most commonly used e-safety education material and their flagship ThinkUKnow campaign has been delivered to nearly six million children in the UK (Barnard-Wills, 2012). In many CEOP films the child is shown to be confident using the technology, however they are actually ignorant about the true nature of a situation/environment. In the films Matt thought he knew

    and Clare thought she knew

    the children think they know what they are doing but they are mistaken. They thought they knew who they were talking to but they were unaware of online deception, anonymity and offline consequences. The videos encourage children to report worrying activity by clicking on the CEOP reporting button.

    Resources

    One of the first things I did on starting SBT1 was to request a copy of the school’s e-safety policy which is also available for parents to view and download from the schools website (http://western-road.eschools.co.uk/website/statutory-documentation/32992). As both a parent and a trainee teacher, I think issues of e-safety have to be addressed at home and at school. If anything, I think the school has the greater responsibility to educate and keep children safe. It is important to realise that some children will be more vulnerable such as those with EAL and SEND. Also, some parents will be better equipped to inform and support their children than others.
    The Slate, produced by Jeremy Burton has lots of great resources for trainees, NQTs and teachers to support understanding of e-safety issues and to help develop effective classroom practice. I am very new to Facebook and social media; I only created a profile just before I started this course. I feel my own knowledge is not up to scratch with regard to privacy settings and sharing pictures. Until recently I was unaware that children under 16 were able to create their own Facebook profiles by flouting the age restrictions. Thanks to The Slate, I have somewhere I can go to educate myself, then be in a better position to help and give advice to my pupils.
    Whilst researching for this post, I discovered that many schools in the UK run an E-safety week. These are annual events to raise awareness for young people on how to be safe on the internet, mobile phones and other social media. I think this is a great idea and should be something that every primary school aims to do. With regard to e-safety it is all about education.

    References

    Barnard-Wills, D. (2012) “E-safety education: Young people, surveillance and responsibility”, Criminology and Criminal Justice 12(3), pp.239-255.
    Byron T. (2008) Safer Children in a Digital World: The Report of the Byron Review. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families and Department for Culture, Media and Sport.
    CEOP Clare thought she knew https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z5WEnqnq1Hk
    CEOP Matt thought he knew https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JpyO5XlfCo
    The Slate http://www.theslate.org/learn/e-safety/
    Western Road Community Primary School Esafety policy
    http://western-road.eschools.co.uk/website/statutory-documentation/32992

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