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

The Snappening – Will it change the way young people use Snapchat?

A few days ago, the word Snappening began to make headlines. A suspected leak of thousands of images of young people had been claimed to have been ‘saved’ from the online app, Snapchat.

According to the report from The Telegraph, hackers accessed around 100,000 private photos and videos of Snapchat users over several years using a third-party service that saves images. Many have then appeared on the 4Chan website. As half of Snapchat’s users are aged between 13 and 17, there is concern many of the images might be of children.

For people of a certain age (or should that be, over a certain age), Snapchat is an enigma – in short, it is a messaging app allowing users to send images to one another to accompany a message on the basis that the image will disappear moments later.

Having recently spent many evenings in the company of someone under that age, the constant click of the electronic shutter aroused my curiosity and I questioned the appeal of using the app. I was told that ‘everyone uses it’ and that was quite simply the main attraction, despite her later admittance that she really couldn’t see the point! There is of course also an element of vanity, why else would it take several attempts to capture the perfect pose for this ‘temporary’ image.

So, when the Snappening first made the headlines, I turned to her to gauge the reaction. Initially there was a little shock (despite knowing that the images could be captured from Snapchat even before the leak), but that soon turned to indifference. It seems that for this particular peer group, only faces make it into the ‘chat’, so there was no concern that anything inappropriate could be leaked – and ‘so what’ if their faces were!

In this case, all of the images have been innocent, but it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see how young people could see the attraction of sharing a fleeting image on the belief that it will only appear for a few seconds before disappearing forever. It seems that they are a little misguided on the power of the Internet and the technology surrounding it. A colleague recently commented “the internet, a hard drive or anything digital leaves a trail! It's like etching in glass, you can smooth it out but if you use a microscope you will see that the image is still embedded into the core of the material like the imperfections in a diamond, invisible to the naked eye”.

So perhaps rather than seeing this as an isolated case only affecting Snapchat, we should be re-visiting the concept of the digital footprint and remind pupils that once something is on ‘The Internet’, be that words or pictures, you lose control. It is also an ideal opportunity to raise the subject of cyber bullying and sexting with pupils who may be using this or similar sites.

For now though, it seems that I am due for more evenings being punctuated with the constant click of the shutter, while the Snapchatting continues until it ceases to be the thing that “everyone” is doing.

If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic, please let us know by using the comments section below

Written by E-safety Support on October 15, 2014 10:56


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