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Online safety – keeping children safe from cyberbullying at school

Here's why teachers should make students aware of online safety in their schools and how it could help to reduce cyberbullying.

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Technology is a very important aspect of modern school life and is used everyday to improve teaching and enhance learning. However, technology can be dangerous when it comes to students using the internet. A child can find themselves at risk whilst using the internet by a simple wrong click of the mouse. That is why it is very important to make teacher’s improve online safety in schools.

Two-thirds of teens want more online safety support

Facebook has teamed up with Childnet International and The Diana Award charity to offer a digital safety ambassador for every secondary school in the UK. A survey has shown that more than two-thirds of teenagers would like schools to provide more support with online safety issues such as cyberbullying. Statistics from TES show that more than three-fifths (63%) want their school to offer more peer-led education programmes on how to use social media safely, a survey from youth research agency has revealed. The ResearchBods poll found that of 1000 13 – 17 year olds (teenagers) are much more likely to confide in a peer (72%) than a teacher (34%) when they experience online bullying.

This will enable young people to be trained as cyber security experts who will provide peer-to-peer support and lead online safety initiatives in the classroom. As part of the scheme, students will learn about social media, cyberbullying and the hazards of the wider internet. It is hoped that tens of thousands of pupils in secondary schools across the UK will be trained as “digital leaders” or “anti-bullying ambassadors” for online and offline bullying. With Facebook committing to provide digital ambassadors, students in schools will help give their peers the tools they need to stay safe and tackle issues such as cyberbullying.

Technology and the internet has many amazing opportunities for people today but what is unacceptable offline should be unacceptable on a computer screen!

Teachers can help students learn about the dangers of cyber crime in class

Teachers spend 5 days a week with their students, so who better to help raise awareness about the dangers of online? The internet is a huge part of everyone’s daily lives, including children’s. If mature adults can fall for online scams, it is certain that a child with limited maturity and awareness can easily become a victim to the dangers of the internet. It’s important for parents to be open with their kids about online safety, but it’s also helpful if teachers get involved in the conversation too.

Children use technology in class, use the internet for school projects and use the internet on their iPad’s, smart phones etc in their spare time, so it’s a good idea for teachers to include some online safety talks in their lessons to raise awareness of the dangers of the internet.

As well as the internet, there are other basic technology features that can put kids in danger that they should be made aware of, as explained by Education Technology. GPS and location services can pinpoint exactly where they are, alerting predators. Posting that they are home alone or even out of town with their family shows predators that they or their possessions are in a vulnerable position. Predators have even found ways to hack into computers and spy on people even when the camera is off, so keeping the screen shut when not in use, or covering the camera is a good idea. Meeting people online has become more of a norm these days, and while it may seem like an interesting way to make friends, it should be restricted to responsible adults.

The most important outcome of teaching online safety in schools is that you want students to be aware that if anything was to go wrong whilst they are using technology or they are unsure of something online, they can talk to a teacher at school about it.

10 top tips teachers should tell their students on how to stay safe online

The below tips have been created by Primary School Teacher Kathleen Morris

  1. Always ask an adult if you’re unsure of anything when you are online
  2. Don’t sign up for sites that are 13+ if you are not old enough (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram etc)
  3. Remember ‘YAPPY’ for the personal information you should not share online – Your full name, Address, Phone number, Passwords, your Plans
  4. Don’t add people as online friends unless you know them in real life or have parent permission. Never arrange to meet an online friend without talking to your parents
  5. Remember that you cannot believe everything you read on the internet and you can’t trust everything your online friends tell you
  6. Choose sensible names for usernames, email addresses etc
  7. Talk to your parents about what you’re doing online and let them know when you’re going on the internet
  8. Know what cyberbullying is and tell someone if you think it’s happening to you or a friend
  9. Cyberbullying is when someone picks on you, annoys, embarrasses, or threatens you over and over again using technology, such as the internet or a phone
  10. Protect your digital footprint; don’t put anything online that you wouldn’t want all your friends, family, teachers and future employers to see

Overall, online technology can be very beneficial, but unfortunately also dangerous. Teachers should be open and honest with their students about the dangers of online technology, in order to educate them about everything they need to know and to help students stay safe online.