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 14:04

NekNominate: The latest online craze

BottlesLast week we became far too familiar with a new online term – NekNominate. For those new to this, NekNominate is an online drinking game which involves the participant drinking a large amount of alcohol as part of a challenge and then nominating someone else to continue the game.

Unfortunately we were alerted in the media to this craze due to some tragic stories, where the prank had gone too far.

To try to understand why this was becoming such a popular phenomenon, I spoke to 2 young people who had both recently completed their NekNomination and interestingly, neither drank alcohol.

The first nominee chose to drink a smoothie concoction consisting of several different ingredients which, when combined made the drink particularly unpleasant (but nevertheless alcohol free). When she had been nominated, she knew she didn’t want to involve alcohol, but wanted to take up the challenge some other way, so instead decided to go for something amusing. She never felt pressurised to involve alcohol and would have been happy had her nominee felt the same.

The second student (of a similar age) took a slightly different approach – instead of drinking large volumes of alcohol, she instead pretended that her drink was made up of wines and spirits, while all along it was really apple juice. She felt the pressure from her peers to complete the task stating that “it can’t end with me” and also to “do something impressive”. So seemingly drinking a vast amount of alcohol (or at least, pretending to) was her choice. The conversation then took an interesting turn when she claimed that she had then “earned the right” to nominate someone else.

So, while both students handled their nomination differently, it seems that the common theme was the need to compete – the first to make the challenge funnier, while the second to make it more impressive than the last – alcohol or no alcohol. Both students agreed that had they thought of something that didn’t involve drinking at all, but was suitably funny/impressive, they would have happily done that instead.

NekNomination appears to have gathered momentum over the last few days, making it more and more attractive to young people to get involved. The tragic cases seem to be lost in the thrill of taking part. However, there are stories emerging where people have developed their own way of taking up the challenge (giving food to the homeless for example). So while the craze will be difficult to prevent, perhaps those who are prepared to make it their own and do something more creative are the ones who will be able to change the nature of NekNomination.

If you would like to share your thoughts on this topic, please use the comments section below

Written by E-safety Support on February 13, 2014 23:10


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