Internet Safety Day
Helping Children confidently navigate the digital world
5 Minute Read
Today is Internet Safety Day and children are using the internet now more than ever. Even when remote learning ends, children will still use the internet having established the habit and continue to use it as a tool to stay connected whilst restrictions remain in place.
The online world presents a wealth of opportunities, but it also comes with many risks that are becoming more prominent in daily life. The young people of today face challenges and risks that have never been experienced before by any generation. They are navigating a world of communication technology that gives them instant access to people and information across the entire globe.
This change of lifestyle brings changes in safeguarding children. Safeguarding, although typically focused on protecting children in the school environment, has had to adapt to our new environment, with the DfE adding a remote learning section into their safeguarding document.
So how can we teach children to stay safe by staying at home, but also to stay safe online? We explore a few engaging options for teachers to successfully educate children on internet safety. Keep reading as we have also partnered with the New Skills Academy to offer a Online Safety course, CPD accredited, reduced from £100 to £24!
1. Start by discussing internet safety with remote learning
Start by having a discussion with your class to build awareness about online risks. Highlight to your students what they will mostly be using the internet for, and the types of risks this may impose. Many schools would have sent parents a list of the software/apps the school intends to use for remote learning and login details, and it’s worth explaining to your class why this step was important.
If you use video lessons, explain why it is crucial to turn off the webcam after lessons, if you use codes to get into class, and demonstrate what your students should look for in a shared link/information. By doing this, you are encouraging children to be vigilant and always be careful in regard to what they are accessing. This will be particularly important as during the pandemic, with remote lessons becoming the norm, many children may let their guard down.
Whilst remote learning, your students may be required to submit work onto a hub or sharing platform, therefore it’s important to reiterate these aspects regularly, so that children don’t neglect internet safety. Discuss the importance of strong passwords, teach children how to use passwords to secure shared word documents, ask them to log out of websites properly and make sure they do not give out or include personal details on content shared online. Students should also consider other individuals details when sharing existing content online.
2. Highlight the 3 main risks of using the internet
There are 3 main risks children need to be educated about in order to navigate safely in the digital world. These include financial risks, physical risks (such as grooming and sexual abuse) and emotional/social risks (such as bullying and shaming on social media).
These risks can happen on any virtual platform, including;
- Social media
- Online chat rooms
- Email and internet messaging
- Video gaming
- Livestreaming events
It is likely, growing up in a digital world, that your students use many of these platforms on a regular basis, and if not yet, will do in the near future. This increases opportunity for children to be exposed to upsetting and inappropriate content.
Discuss appropriate language and behaviour, the sort of questions that may be suspect, giving consent and declining to provide information. There is an excellent course created by Google called Be Internet Legends. The video and content explain the elements of internet safety in more detail, touching on fraud, bullying and cohesion. Be Internet Legends is endorsed by the PSHE Association and backed by the government, and is developed by Google.
3. Privacy and Personal Data
Over the years, with the growth of Facebook, Google and sources such as Wikipedia, the internet has become a tool for sharing. It’s easy to assume there is no issue with sharing information when so much is accessible, however, there are some things that should be private.
With the introduction of GDPR in 2018, we now understand how valuable our data is, how it can be used and how we should be careful about what we share online. Not that children are expected to understand GDPR, but teaching the value of data is an excellent stepping stone, educating the younger generation that their information is the new gold. We have some lesson ideas on our resources tab, such as converting data into currency and demonstrating how data should and shouldn’t be exchanged online.
The NSPCC focus on children’s growing use of social media platforms. Children may be at risk of being groomed if they have an online profile that means they can be contacted privately.
Children’s posts or profile information may expose personal information and put them at risk. For example, they may talk about their home life, feelings, or thoughts they’ve been having. There may be information that makes them identifiable such as locations of events they are taking part in or visual clues in photographs. Perpetrators may use this information to groom, abuse or exploit children. This can be taught in a fun way by creating a made-up online persona, and asking your students to play detective, trying to find out as much information as possible about the individual, to demonstrate how easy it can be to let vital, private information slip out into public view.
4. Fake News
Our world has become oversaturated with content, making the world children are growing up in a tricky place to navigate. How do we know what is real, what is targeted at us and what not to believe?
This can even be hard for adults, so the most important lesson we can teach here is to not believe everything you read, unless you have done your research and the information is from a valuable source. For example, Social Media is not a valuable resource for accurate information.
5. Viruses and considering carefully what they click
Curiosity gets the best of us, and in particular curious children! The internet has become a magnet for less positive practices, making it tempting to click on something that results in a virus infecting your computer. So how can we equip children with the right knowledge, to spot a potential virus threat?
Users need to be aware of how they might unknowingly download or spread malware and how to deal with an attack. It is of great importance to educate students about the need for a suitable antivirus program. Talk about the different versions available, their uses and the need for antivirus software to be updated yearly. The best defence against viruses is to spot suspicious emails. Make it a fun game amongst students to review a list of emails and spot which ones they think could be fake or use untrustworthy links.
To end Internet Safety day, we have collated a list of useful resources you can use yourself and with your students.
We have also partnered with CPD accredited training company, New Skills Academy that are exclusively offering an Online Safety with Children course for a limited time. Initially £100, you can take the course for just £24.
Enhance your skills, add a certificate to your CV from a accredited course, and become a Internet Safety expert.
Excellent online resources
- https://beinternetlegends.withgoogle.com/en_uk -excellent videos and content explaining the elements of internet safety. Be Internet Legends is endorsed by the PSHE Association and backed by the government, and is developed by Google.
- https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-and-remote-education-during-coronavirus-covid-19 - official governement guidance on remote teaching
- https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/news/2020/march/undertaking-remote-teaching-safely - detailed guidance and advanced courses