Teaching Children to Be Safe Online
We are all more connected than ever before with many children having access to internet-connected devices before they learn to walk and talk, and more educational resources being utilised in schools. This begs the question: What are the impacts of internet use on children and how can we keep them safe? As Safer Internet Day is being celebrated around the world on Tuesday 11th February 2020, we wanted to create a blog providing useful information on how you can educate children on how to stay safe online and create a better internet.
Having a safer online experience for your students starts with a secure foundation. Installing anti-virus solutions makes sure that your computer is clear of common viruses and malware, having strong passwords and updating all software regularly means your school is always protected from threats. Read our blog all about how to improve your schools online security for more information.
Teach your students how to recognise common social engineering methods, such as phishing emails or social media phishing. Phishing has been around for many years and it still continues to be one of the most successful ways to scam people, so teaching students about phishing will help prevent students from falling for the trap in the future.
Many social media platforms have privacy controls that can be used to improve their security. If you know that your students are using social media, talk to them about these controls and the importance of using them effectively. Convincing them to take privacy controls seriously may require you to make them aware of the threats that they are vulnerable to on these platforms such as inappropriate content, scams and predators targeting children and teenagers on social media. Also reminding your students that using offensive language and sharing inappropriate photos or videos via social media will stay there forever, even if they delete it, because it can be shared by many other social media users and could possibly come back to haunt them at some later stage of their life. By having these conversations it will make children using social media more responsible and they will have a clear knowledge of the dangers that could potentially happen.
Content Filtering & Monitoring
Content filtering in schools is essential to keep kids away from content that is not suitable for them. Having an effective content filtering service such as SurfProtect Quantum allows you to take control over how your Internet connection is used. This combined with a good monitoring service gives a comprehensive solution, to protect your pupils from things they should not access on the internet. Monitoring services like Securus can alert you to a child in need, telling you when they may be searching something such as self-harm, suicide and concerns can then be raised.
While it may seem that the internet has created more availability for connection, it has also created more availability for anonymity and the illusion of safety, in these cases cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can take many forms which include, harassment, stalking or embarrassing rumours. Anyone can become a victim of cyberbullying, but children and teenagers are the most vulnerable. While most cyberbullying incidents (for example, children getting flooded with mean texts or having negative comments being made on their photos or videos) occur at home, these problems will soon spill over to the classroom, making cyberbullying an issue teachers can’t ignore. The answer isn’t forbidding technology, so much as teaching kids right from wrong. As a teacher, you can be a powerful force in promoting a climate of respect. Educate yourself and be on the lookout for signs that cyberbullying is taking place, because you may be the trusted adult a student turns to for help. Many schools today have bullying programmes in place, so teachers may have established policies available for dealing with activity that involves students.
All teachers and students have a part to play in making the internet a better place. However as teachers you can create an internet where students are, free to talk. If anyone or anything, online is making a child feel worried, upset or uncomfortable, then talk to this child straight away and try to resolve the problem. The sooner you know how this child is feeling, the sooner he/she can be helped. Also, children should have the right to be themselves in or out of school. Always encourage the students in your classroom to try new activities even if this is online, but first check to see if the activity they’re wanting to do is appropriate for them.