My roles as a Year 5 teacher and leader of Computing, as well as being the parent of two children, ages 11 and 15, has led me to think quite a lot about Online-Safety.
Digital media provides opportunities for people to explore, connect, create and learn. While we want children to be inspired and to take these opportunities, we also want them to be aware of potential pitfalls, such as difficulty in managing screen time, online relationships and bullying, anxiety about self-image, misinformation and the permanency of an online presence.
Although it is important to set boundaries for children, each day they are becoming more independent. Like learning to swim or crossing the road, the best way to keep children safe online is to help them develop the skills necessary to do so.
The Education for a Connected World framework issued by the government provides guidance for teaching children to live knowledgeably, responsibly and safely in a digital world
After much research, we have found a curriculum that achieves this goal. The curriculum focuses on 8 key areas:
- Self-image and identity
- Online relationships
- Online reputation
- Online bullying
- Managing online information
- Health, well-being and lifestyle
- Privacy and security
- Copyright and ownership
Children at Coleridge are provided with a wide variety of opportunities to increase their awareness of potential dangers online, and to develop the skills they need to act safely. We ensure children gain an understanding of what it means to behave respectfully toward others and to know that they, themselves, have the right to be treated respectfully as well.
At home, the most effective way for us to help our own children stay safe online is to talk with them. Keep the conversation going, to help prevent problems, or to deal with them if they are already happening. Help children develop critical thinking as they grow up. Discuss boundaries and agree which apps and websites are appropriate. Explore these apps and websites together, and make sure your children feel part of the discussion. Reassure them that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
The world in which our children are growing up in, is evolving very quickly and it sometimes feels as if the challenges inherent in keeping up with them are overwhelming. Ideally, we want to embrace the benefits, while remaining aware of the dangers.
I would like to conclude this blog with a quote I heard recently on a radio programme about e-safety:
“Among the forest of perceived hazards, it is easy to lose sight of the many rays of sunshine. When it comes to the real threats, we have no choice but to navigate them.”