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An introduction to internet safety for primary school teachers.
There is no doubt that since the lockdown began, we have seen an increase in the usage of the internet by adults and children. According to Ofcom, there has been an increase in who is using social media.
- 48% of Snapchat users are aged 8 to 11
- 50% of TikTok’s audience is aged 11 to 15
- 42% of Instagram’s users are under 18.
For most people the internet is an integral part of life and has
many benefits. For young students, the internet is an inexhaustible supply of entertainment and information, and as they grow, they will find themselves using it even more especially when it comes to higher education.
Nevertheless, it is important to teach students about the underpinning knowledge and behaviours that can help to navigate the online world safely and confidently regardless of the device, platform, or app.
What is the Department for Education framework?
The Department for Education has created a framework to equip children and younger students for digital life called “Education for a Connected World”.
This PDF goes through age-specific advice about the online knowledge and skills that students should have the opportunity to develop at different stages of their lives.
With the Department for Education addressing these contemporary issues, they have introduced subjects (such as Online Safety Day) that includes: being taught what positive, healthy, and respectful online relationships look like, the consequences of their online actions and knowing how to recognise and display respectful behaviour online.
The RSE curriculum and internet safety in primary schools.
The RSE is a mandatory topic which covers relationships and sex education in schools. This was made mandatory in January 2020 however due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are only able to focus on the relationship side of the curriculum.
Within the RSE there are many subjects that aid to safeguard children, this includes internet safety.
According to the RSE curriculum pupils must know the following:
• That for most people the internet is an integral part of life and has many benefits.
• About the benefits of rationing time spent online, the risks of excessive time spent on electronic devices and the impact of positive and negative content online on their own and others’ mental and physical wellbeing.
• How to consider the effect of their online actions on others and know how to recognise and display respectful behaviour online and the importance of keeping personal information private.
• Why social media, some computer games and online gaming, for example, are age restricted.
• That the internet can also be a negative place where online abuse, trolling, bullying and harassment can take place, which can have a negative impact on mental health.
• How to be a discerning consumer of information online including understanding that information, including that from search engines, is ranked, selected and targeted.
• Where and how to report concerns and get support with issues online.
Why do students need to be careful on the internet?
Pupils should be taught the rules and principles for keeping safe online. This includes how to recognise risks, harmful content and contact, and how and to whom to report issues. Pupils should have a strong understanding of how data is generated, collected, shared and used online, for example, how personal data is captured on social media. As a teacher, you must be aware of the potential harm your students might come across, especially if those students are in vulnerable positions:
The types of harm students can come across online can be the following:
- Age restrictions.
- Content which may include:
- Distressing images.
- Images which are meant for adult viewers only.
- Unsafe communication.
- Triggering language.
- Live Streaming.
- Reputational damage.
- Scams, fraud, and hacking – this could ultimately lead to personal information being leaked on forums.
- Impact on confidence, physical and mental.
- Online abuse and bullying.
Within the teaching of online safety in the school’s curriculum, teachers are advised to be aware of their pupils who have endured or are enduring any abuse. Discussing these topics might be triggering or detrimental to their mental health.
A good way to practise this is by approaching your designated safeguarding lead to discuss any approach or planning to a safeguarding related lesson. Your designated safeguarding lead should be able to advise you and support any student who may be impacted by the lesson.
What do students need to know?
There are many ways students can keep safe online. We have listed the basics that all students should know to keep themselves safe and cyber wise.
- Your usernames and passwords should never be related to any personal information unless it is for personal use with trusted friends and family. You can create strong passwords by creating a sentence and using the first letter of each word for your complete password.
Learn how to question everything and everyone we see only.
- Don’t be embarrassed to report cyberbullying or any other abuse you may see or receive.
- During school hours, teachers can use plugins and ad blocks for their internet access.
How do we teach students to know what is healthy and what is not?
The Guide to Teaching is a guide which was made by the DfE, was last updated in June 2019 and hasn’t been updated since due to the 2020 pandemic. However, it is still helpful! The Guide to Teaching online safety suggests schools can help students recognise whether what they see online is acceptable, a fact or not, by asking the following questions:
- Is this website/URL/email fake? How can I tell?
- Is this person who they say they are?
- Why does someone want me to see this?
- Why would someone want me to believe this?
- Why does this person want my personal information?
- What is behind this post?
- Is this too good to be true?
- Is this fact or opinion?
Teachers are also advised to incorporate vocabulary that helps the students develop these questions further. We have attached a YouTube playlist full of vocabulary definitions that will support your students judgement.
Great teacher resources and training.
Amongst all the information you can find on the web on internet safety for primary schools, we have listed the key principles for Internet Safety Day. These tips and resources go hand in hand with The Guide to Teaching Internet Safety curriculum.
- Be S.M.A.R.T technique: Stay safe, don’t meet up, don’t accept files from people you don’t know, is the source reliable? Tell someone if you think something isn’t right.
- The Guide to Life website is a great resource for primary school teachers and parents. Click here for more information.
- Create a whole school approach. The Guide to Teaching Online Safety emphasizes the need for online safety to be embedded in everything the school does. From creating a culture that incorporates all the principles of online safety to reviewing and maintaining the online safety principles.
- Instead of focusing on the latest trends and apps focus on knowledge and behaviours online. The world online is constantly changing, every day there is a new trend. Therefore, it might be hard to keep up on these trends. Instead, allow students to evaluate what they see and recognise whether it is acceptable or not.
- Set an example and hold the same expectations of the student’s behaviour whenever a student is online at school. Whether they are on their phone or logged into a school computer. Schools need to ensure that they are also supporting parents or carers, and getting them involved, so they can incorporate the same principles at home.
- For younger students who may have just got their first phone or have had one for a while. The BBC Own It app is a great tool to help students become more cyber safe.
External support for students.
This is crucial for students to understand this part of internet safety. Seeking support should not feel embarrassing nor a student should be made to feel anything negative towards reporting online abuse. Most social media platforms have a report and block option. However, in some cases, the police must be called. You can also contact Childline and the NSPCC for advice.
- Think you know education programme has information for children and parents which can be used from home.
If teachers feel like they need more support and training on how to approach online safety lessons and activities the NSPCC offers CPD verified online safety training for teachers to feel more confident on the subject. Ensuring their duty of care is covered by understanding the principles of online safety according to The Online Safety Guide policies.