A thorough understanding of this ever-evolving field is more important than ever with recent studies showing the majority of all 12 to 16 year olds turn to YouTube for information; one in three young people are admitting to meeting “online friends” face-to-face; and an estimated 90% of radicalisation taking place online.
No less important is concern over the rising number of suicides and self-harming activity as a result of cyberbullying. It is critical that pupils are taught how to be resilient, both in order to deal with things they see online that upset them and to be aware of how to avoid inadvertently becoming a “troll”. Too easily, children and young people can unwittingly contribute to problems, for example, “liking” or “sharing” a post they consider to be funny but that could be hurtful or damaging to the person featured.
Is restricting internet access the only answer?
Filtering and blocking should, of course, be in place both in the school setting and at home, but this needs to be proportionate so as not to affect a pupil’s ability to use the internet responsibly as a learning tool. As well as filtering and blocking, young people need to be taught to use the internet safely. Internet use takes place in the school, at home and when out and about, so it is vital that parents and carers are included in learning about e-safety.
For more information about how to keep children safe and implement thorough staff safeguarding training, including e-safety training and briefings for pupils and parents, contact Carrie-Ann Varey or Hayley Smith, One Education Safeguarding professionals.