Why e-safety is more than just an IT issue

It is widely considered that e-safety in schools is a technology issue and is therefore solely the responsibility of the IT Lead – we disagree


Excelacom_Internet_MinuteWhen a pupil uses Twitter to cyber bully a classmate, this isn’t because they are using Twitter, but rather they are demonstrating bad behaviour on Twitter. Similarly, if a teacher ‘friends’ a parent on Facebook, the action of the teacher is a matter of school policy and not the fault of Facebook. E-safety is therefore not just a system of filters and monitors but more importantly a matter of education.

Should raising the issue of e-safety with all those responsible for the protection of young people therefore just be left to the IT department? Should it not also include all teachers, parents, non-contact staff and indeed the pupils themselves.

The diagram shown – ‘What happens in an Internet minute’, provides evidence to support e-safety awareness across the curriculum. For example the number of hours of music listened to on Spotify could lead to an interesting discussion in a music class about the copyright issues and how artists are affected by illegal downloads. Or Instagram can be explored in a creative arts lesson. Amazon sales and e-commerce in general could be developed through maths and financial awareness studies. There are so many incredible and positive ways to use the Internet, there is no reason why e-safety education should not be equally as diverse.

We must, of course, address the issues of risk. Stranger danger has always been a safeguarding issue – yes even before the Internet. And bullying happened in the playground long before Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and so on became some of the conduits for cyber bullies. Perhaps the new phrase ‘Digital Wellbeing’ rather than ‘e-safety’ may go some way to encourage those in more pastoral roles to look at ways to support online safety from a behavioural perspective.

It is important to remember that when Ofted introduced e-safety as part of the school inspection they stated as an indicator of inadequate practice:

“There is no progressive, planned e-safety education across the curriculum, for example there is only an assembly held annually”
There are some great campaigns held throughout the year that highlight Internet safety issues, Safer Internet Day, the Childnet Film Competition, Anti-Bullying Week and so on. However, these should not be seen as stand-alone, one-off events, but more the culmination of a programme of learning throughout the year.



At E-safety Support we would love to hear your thoughts on this topic and hear examples of how you are dealing with e-safety across the curriculum. Please use the comments section below to share your ideas with other teachers.

If you would like ideas about planning e-safety throughout the year, our 2016 planner is still available to download from your E-safety Support dashboard.

Picture Credit – ‘2016 What happens in an Internet minute’ is copyright Excelacom

Written by E-safety Support on April 21, 2016 10:47

E-safety Review of 2014

Governor Training 8In the final E-safety Support article of the year, we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to look back at some of the major news stories and events that have shaped the world of e-safety during 2014.

In January, the Christmas sales figures reported the huge increase in sales of tablet devises, changing the way many young people interact with the online environment. Unsurprisingly then, the biggest trend on display at the 2014 Bett show was that of implementing these devises into education.

February saw the 11th annual Safer Internet Day. Activities were held across the UK and reached millions. We are of course, looking forward to the event again in 2015. February also saw the fleeting internet craze, Nek-Nominate. This saw many young people taking sometimes fatal risks in order to go one better than their predecessors in this online phenomenon.

In March, a new NSPCC report found that 28% of children aged 11-16 with a profile on a social networking site have experienced something upsetting on it in the last year. In other news, teachers too were once again recognised by unions as needing ‘rules’ for social media usage. However, the positive side of social media was also recognised when the ‘no make-up selfie’ campaign raised millions for charity.

At the beginning of April, Ofsted released their latest inspecting e-safety briefing document containing suggestions for good and outstanding practice in this area. This report was to be later removed from the public domain, although the requirement for a robust e-safety provision in schools was still very much on the Ofsted agenda.

May saw the emergence of ‘Creepshots’, websites that operate like social networking media sites where members are encouraged to post photos that have been taken possibly without consent or knowledge of the person in them. May was also the month when the European Union set a major precedent over what is now referred to as the "right to be forgotten".

Slenderman made an appearance in June, the disturbing Internet creation that is being blamed for a series of near fatal stabbings. In other news in June, Facebook announced plans for a platform for children under 13 to have social networking profile. A report from AGV found that almost 80% of parents blame the Internet for forcing the 'Facts of Life' conversation. It was also suggested that contrary to popular opinion, children's unorthodox spelling and grammar while texting does not stop them learning the rules of formal English.

July saw the launch of Friendly WiFi. Friendly WiFi is the world’s first accreditation scheme designed to verify whether a business’ public Wi-Fi service meets a minimum level of filtering to block out access to pornographic and child abuse websites. This brand new service aims to protect young people when they access the Internet using Wi-Fi hotspots in cafes, restaurants etc.

In August, a study by Oxford University saw the positive side of gaming, suggesting that playing video games for a short period each day could have a small but positive impact on child development. Also in August, Ofcom announced figures which suggested that six-year-olds understand digital technology better than adults.

In September, The Telegraph reported that parents feel more confident talking to their children about notoriously tricky topics like the birds and the bees, puberty and race than they do about how to use the internet safely – and some plan to avoid it, despite admitting its importance. In related news, parents were encouraged to pay more attention to the apps their children download after new research found that nearly a third do not monitor the downloads their children make to their smartphones.

News in October reported that teenagers sending each other sexually explicit messages and images – known as sexting – is increasingly becoming a “normal” part of growing up. However, they were also warned about the risks and potential legal issues surrounding sexting. It was also in October when the leak of images from the popular app Snapchat (which became known as the ‘Snappening’) put the privacy of many young people at risk.

As we reached November, many schools and organisations geared up for Anti-Bullying Week. With more and more children owning mobile devices and spending longer online and on social media, cyber bullying is becoming one of the most common forms of bullying. The annual event organised by the Anti Bullying Alliance saw many activities across the UK.

And finally, in December, the Prime Minister spoke at the #We Protect Children Online summit to commit to tackling online safety. David Cameron revealed details of 3 main strategies to tackle online child exploitation; blocking internet search terms, identifying illegal images and Global child protection and laws.

Looking back, it’s been an eventful year, with the world of e-safety evolving and online trends coming and going in a flash. We expect 2015 to be no different, so will be continuing to support you and your school with up-to-date news and information about the e-safety issues that affect you.

Written by E-safety Support on December 18, 2014 13:57

4 Ways to Address Sexting in the Classroom

Parent Training 1The headlines like to shock, 'teenagers in nude pic row', 'small town in teen sexting epidemic' ...again today it's being widely reported that in a recent nationwide study a mere 1 out of 5 girls are classed as enjoying a healthy self esteem, social media being in the dock yet again as the root cause. Are we to believe the hype and allow ourselves a knee jerk reaction to this growing problem or see it as not dissimilar to the ' show me yours and I'll show you mine' game from youth?

Firstly we need to understand why it's so popular even with the knowledge that in some circumstances it is against the law. 'Media hype' is correct in its suggestion that it’s practiced by a high number of teens. So, why is this the case? There are many factors that drive this behaviour...teenage behaviour experts have spoken of the natural instinct within young people to behave in a risky fashion; to explore their sexuality, discover their adult selves, break rules, feel 'naughty'... alongside this, the impact of the humble Smartphone and its never-ending options, like Snapchat and the instant Photoshop opportunities can't be underestimated. But, I think most of all it’s because of the good old craving to be told you're attractive and to feel desired, narcissism in all its glory - of which we are all not immune. All at a time when hormones are raging and there's this burning ambition to just 'fit in' and be popular.

If we delve a little deeper into other studies centred around the subject, there are other interesting finds that give us a deeper insight into the teenage mind, which fuel my ' PSHE teacher brain'. According to stats, 3 out of 4 teenagers truly believe that any pictures they send that are considered sexy or sexual will only ever be seen by the recipient. Naive perhaps, but we have to see it from their viewpoint - that it’s being sent to a person they see as being trustworthy and because they are still learning about relationships, their inexperience can be their undoing. Rather than displaying a cavalier attitude to their privacy and decency, is what is actually happening within the realms of 'normal' sexual experimentation? The survey goes on to state that out of the teens who partake in sexting, they perceive what they are doing as not being wrong and that it’s their choice... and apparently I discovered that cases of pictures being shared without permission were rare and unusual. However I'm sure that there are many cases that aren't reported due to the nature of the problem and the fact they would not want the police to get involved, or parents to find out.

I see the problems with sexting as being when young people are coerced or pressured to take and send sexual photos of themselves with the direct intension of being shared and their privacy abused. This is where the dangers lie with this issue and it can leave vulnerable individuals, normally girls, becoming victims of truly horrible experiences that can have far reaching consequences into adulthood.

So, yes, education is badly needed to make young people aware of all sides of this issue, including the law and where they stand should they take a picture, send it or worse share it. Ultimately, teenagers will always have a natural inclination toward this kind of behaviour, but at the very least we can be sure that they will be making decisions with all the facts and their complexities explained to them.

Below are some suggestions to the help you quickly get to the heart of the issue during lessons and spark classroom debate.
1. Be clear...Respect the law! Respect yourself and respect others (you could be breaking the law if you share)
2. Understand the consequences of your actions, imagine your 'worst case scenario' - think twice before pressing send. Question your actions.
3. Get the students to ask themselves 'what do I want to achieve from this?' ...could I get my desired outcome another way other than sending sexual pictures?
4. Finally, be realistic. Will sending pictures really bag the boyfriend/girlfriend of your dreams? The chances are probably not. If they respect you they will not ask you to do it. Never be talked into doing it!

If you would like to share your thoughts and ideas on how to tackle this topic with your class, please use the comment section below. E-safety Support Premium and Premium Plus members can also download related assembly and lesson plans from your dashboard.

Written by Vicki Dan on November 13, 2014 11:07


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