• 02 Nov
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    This is the first of three guest posts from Matt Lovegrove, an independent online safety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher.

    Matt has used BrainPOP in his teaching for many years and we invited him to share his thoughts, experience, and insights on this important topic with you all.


    Online safety is big at the moment.

    Schools are now required to ensure that ALL staff are actively involved in teaching students to use technology safely and responsibly.

    Technicians are asked to provide and manage ever more complex blocking, filtering, and monitoring tools.

    But everything moves so quickly that it’s hard to keep up. Seemingly every week a new app, trend, meme, or game makes an appearance and it’s back to the drawing board.

    This leaves teaching staff and parents feeling lost. How can they possibly keep up with the apps and websites their children are using?

    So fundamentally, what is online safety, and who’s responsible for it?

    E-safety (now referred to by Ofsted as ‘online safety’) has been about for a long time, but recently its status in society has been raised.

    This is in response to children getting into trouble on the Internet and the headlines this generates. They may be communicating with strangers, accessing or making inappropriate material, being bullied (or bullying), playing games that include themes that aren’t age appropriate, and more.

    We know that this happens, but at the same time we mustn’t forget just how brilliant technology is and how it can improve the way we live.

    Take ownership of the problem

    We, as adults, need to embrace and understand the technology that children are using and help support them to use it safely.

    Yes, we need to safeguard, but ultimately we should all be aiming to empower young people to use technology responsibly by themselves, and being there for them to lean on when they need a hand.

    The role of parents

    Parents need to do their part to help their children to use the Internet properly, much like they explain crossing the road safely or not talking to strangers.

    Dr Tanya Byron, in her 2008 report on new technologies and risks ‘Safer children in a digital world’, put it perfectly with this analogy…

    “Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.”

    Children will benefit massively from having parents who are there to support them ‘swim the depths’ of the Internet.

    • Answer questions or concerns on the spot
    • Model responsible communication
    • Help your kids build a healthy level of scepticism!

    These 3 behaviours will greatly help children be successful independent users of technology.

    Develop a culture of online safety education at school

    Teachers have a duty to educate students about online benefits and risks.

    To do this, teachers first need to have a good understanding of the ways that young people communicate and share online. The problem is that many teachers feel out of touch with technology; some are even afraid of it.

    A simple session working with students, observing the apps they use and how they work, would help enormously. Ofsted’s 2015 online safety research noted “The involvement of the wider school community in writing online safety policies remains low”.

    Try to change this. Involve a cross section of the school community in building policies and delivering training.

    Most young people would enjoy sharing their online world with their teachers if they felt that the “grown ups” had a genuine desire to listen and learn.

    Get support from your techies!

    Technical staff have traditionally been given the responsibility to make sure there are appropriate safeguards built into the new technologies.

    There is, and always will be, a place for online safety management tools.

    Beyond the tech, things like allowing personal information to be hidden, having an easy to use reporting system, and having real people moderating content will greatly help children use online services safely.

    So who IS responsible?

    This is an issue that can’t be tackled by one person in a school, or pushed to the side as a pastoral issue. The buck can’t be passed to the technical staff or ICT coordinator to add increasingly burdensome (and expensive!) software and infrastructure.

    The bottom line is a responsible online safety culture owned by the whole school community is the most effective way to establish real and long term online safety for children.

    The best online safety isn’t about scaremongering and lists of rules that begin with ‘don’t’.

    It’s about giving everyone the tools, the knowledge, and the understanding to use technology positively and tackle any associated issues and risks confidently.

    If we ALL take online safety seriously, we can ALL make a difference to young people’s lives.

    In my next post I’ll be looking at practical ways schools can start to build that culture.


    Matt Lovegrove is an independent eSafety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher. If you need training or support for your school, please get in touch with Engage eSafety.

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  • 06 Feb
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    7th February 2012 is Safer Internet Day , an initiative to help children discover “the digital world together safely” and this year there seems to be greater awareness of the event than ever before.

    Safer Internet Day 2012We’ve gathered together a collection of what we consider our most useful and relevant topics for you to use in class if you’re planning an internet safety lesson tomorrow (or whenever actually!).

    Online Safety movie

    Online Safety

    Online Safety (FREE) – Use this topic to learn how to keep your identity a secret; how to identify people who might not be as nice as they seem; and who can help you stay safe.  BrainPOP is an online resource so we appreciate how important it is for kids to stay safe online.

    Information Privacy

    Information Privacy

    Information Privacy – The Internet is a fun place but it can also be dangerous. Spammers, hackers, and identity thieves lurk in the corners of the World Wide Web waiting to grab unsuspecting users’ personal information. In this movie, Tim and Moby show you how you can keep yourself safe online by keeping your personal information private! You’ll learn how to recognise and avoid the most common scams used by these digital miscreants and find out why it’s important to read a site’s privacy policy before entering with anyone you don’t know in real life. Finally, you’ll discover why it’s never a good idea to post information that you wouldn’t want your parents or teachers to see! Don’t be scared of the Internet; educate yourself, and be prepared!



    Cyberbullying – Dealing with cyberbullying doesn’t have to ruin your day. In this movie, you’ll learn about some of the different techniques online bullies use to get inside their victims’ heads. You’ll also find out why bullies might act this way, and how some of them may not even realise that they’re doing anything wrong. Finally, Tim will explain what to do if you are bullied online, showing you different strategies for keeping your online experience pleasant and safe. This topic also comes with an activity you can complete after watching the movie. This topic’s like a self-defence class for the world wide web!

    Social Networking

    Social Networking

    Social Networking – Millions of people worldwide have joined online social networks and in this topic, Tim and Moby explain what all the fuss is about! You’ll find out exactly how social networks bring people together, and why so many users have signed up. You’ll also discover what some of the largest, most popular social networking sites are all about, and how you and your friends can use them to update one another about your plans and activities! Finally, Tim tells you why it’s important to protect your privacy when you use social networking sites, and also gives you a few valuable tips to help you stay safe – and have fun!

    Digital Etiquette

    Digital Etiquette

    Digital Etiquette – Tim and Moby teach you about the do’s and dont’s of digital etiquette, a.k.a. netiquette, and why you should be as polite online as you are offline. In this topic, learn how the code of conduct we follow in our everyday lives applies to how you communicate digitally, from emails to instant messages to social networking websites. Discover how the Internet poses unique challenges to etiquette, and see how practices like “flaming” and “trolling” can transform a friendly message board into a verbal battleground. How can you fight online rudeness and help bring courtesy and respect back to the web? Start by watching this movie!

    If you’re interested in seeing more ICT resources we have a Digital Citizenship spotlight which could help with lesson ideas and also a Tips & Ideas sheet with lesson ideas and discussion suggestions.

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