Each year schools around the world focus on keeping kids safe online, through the medium of Safer Internet Day. I believe that this is a marvelous event, because it focuses people’s attention on the whole e-safety issue, and leads to some great ideas for activities in the classroom.
But here’s the question: How do you ensure that your kids are safe all through the year, not just on one day of the year? Here are a few suggestions.
First, your school needs an e-safety policy that covers the main aspects of e-safety. This is not a definitive list but I’m thinking of things such as protection of one’s identity, being mindful of one’s digital footprint, protection from seeing unsuitable content, cyber-bullying and even from extremist content. Perhaps we should add protection from fake news too: After all, if you can’t distinguish between fact and fiction, how can you protect yourself from being hoodwinked by unscrupulous people?
As I said, that’s not a definitive list, so just search for ‘e-safety policy’ to find some good examples and templates.
Secondly, it’s no good having a policy if it exists, doesn’t live. What do I mean by that? Well, I can write a policy right now, and leave it on my computer and never look at it again. That would mean I could tick the box next to “E-safety policy?” on some official form or other, but for all practical purposes the policy might just as well not have been written.
So teachers and pupils need to know about it, so it needs to be easily available. But it also needs to be more than just a token gesture. How many times have you clicked on the box that says you accept all the terms and conditions, without even bothering to read them? And when you do read them, are you any the wiser about what you’ve agreed to?
So ideally your e-safety policy needs to be written in ‘pupil speak’, and be short. How many pages do you need to say things like “I agree to treat other people online considerately”?
Thirdly, is it possible for pupils to report things they are unhappy about anonymously? This could be crucial if you’re serious about stopping cyber-bullying.
Fourthly, do teachers know what to do if particular situations arise?
And finally, how do teachers and other staff conduct themselves online? Children learn by observing, and sometimes, unfortunately, they learn the wrong things.
Here’s an infographic that seems to cover all the bases. What do you think?
Terry Freedman publishes the ICT & Computing in Education website on the other side of the pond. His first Kindle book, Education Conferences: Teachers’ Guide to Getting the Most out of Education Conferences, is currently available for just $0.99 at http://viewBook.at/conferences