• 13 Jan
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    This is the final part of 3 online safety guest posts from Matt Lovegrove, an independent esafety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher

    If you want to help your pupils become safe and responsible users of the Internet, you’ll need to work in tandem with parents.

    Learning about online safety in school is great, but children are most likely to need support when using the Internet at home. It’s in living rooms and bedrooms where children will access the apps they can’t at school and are most likely to be sharing and communicating online.

    Parents need support

    Parents need the skills and understanding to be able to confidently guide their children through the exciting world of online life.

    The problem is, parents often feel that their children know more about being online than they do, and some parents report having no idea what their children are getting up to on the Internet.

    But we can’t blame them; children are becoming digitally literate from an early age now and it’s hard to keep up with the latest games and social networks.

    Brush up on your knowledge first

    The online world changes quickly, so before you address parents, ensure your knowledge is top notch!

    Ask your pupils what apps and websites they are using and start to learn about them; pupils will generally be keen to share this information with you. If you’re unfamiliar with apps and services that pupils mention, use NSPCC Net-aware to find out about them.

    Net Aware - Instagram

    Getting parents on board

    Getting parents on board with online safety doesn’t have to be hard! Start by asking parents about what they’d like advice about. They may feel out of depth and may appreciate you reaching out to them.

    Run an online safety presentation or workshop evening for parents

    Try running a morning or after-school session with parents to encourage them to take a more active role in helping their children become safer Internet users:

    • Share what you know about the apps and websites that children use and your school rules about using the Internet
    • You may have a bigger parent turn out if you offer childcare during after-school sessions; some schools host a film night for children during their sessions to save parents having to pay for babysitters
    • Keep the sessions you run short, friendly and entertaining
    • Use a variety of resources, such as videos and worksheets, to keep interest high

    Avoid scaremongering and be sensitive; online safety shouldn’t be too scary and you should be aware that if you’re going to talk about grooming and abuse, some parents may find this hard to listen to.

    Focus on giving parents the skills to help their children use Internet services properly; spending time telling parents that their children shouldn’t be using services isn’t always effective and doesn’t solve the overall problem.

    Bolt an online safety event on to another event

    If parents’ evening is coming up, why not run an online safety session a number of times during the evening and ask parents to arrive early to attend it? If parents are already in school, engage them there!

    Feature online safety regularly

    Add an online safety tip section to your school’s newsletter; keep it simple, quick and friendly. A weekly reminder will help drip-feed advice to parents.

    Send home parents’ guide

    Why not send home guides or publish blog posts about Internet safety. Use social media to reach as many parents as possible.

    Finally, use homework to encourage debate at home

    Have children complete an Internet safety project as a homework project; this may get them talking about it at home.


    engage-esafety

    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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  • 23 Nov
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    This is part 2 of 3 guest posts from Matt Lovegrove, an independent online safety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher (part 1 – Is online safety a problem for the techies, the teachers, or the parents?)

    —–

    I was never taught about online safety at school.

    I remember when my family got (dial up!) Internet in 1999 and the world was suddenly opened up to me. I created innumerable website accounts without really knowing what they would be used for, made my own websites, and chatted with people I’d never get to meet in real-life.

    I loved how open the Internet was and how easily I could access information.

    But in hindsight I didn’t really know what I was doing and about the potential risks I was facing. And, of course, the same went for schools.

    Prevention vs cure

    We’re still learning how people use the Internet to take advantage of others and how mistakes are made, but, as with most things, prevention is better than cure.

    If we can teach children to independently and confidently assess situations and avoid risks, we’ll be doing well.

    In fact, if we teach them to be responsible and sensible users of all technologies at a young age, we’re setting up them up to be successful in adulthood too. Let’s face it, a good understanding of technology will be fundamental to future success.

    Engaging children with online safety messages doesn’t have to be hard, boring or scary. To be most effective it should be fun, hands-on and engaging.

    Below I have listed my favourite online safety resources for use with young people. I’ve seen them work time and again in schools I work with. You may be familiar with some of them, but please do share them with staff and parents.

    1. Childnet

    Childnet’s high-quality resources are free to use and have a wide scope – all educational organisations would benefit from using them. The stories, such as Digiduck’s Big Decision and Smartie the Penguin are some of my favourite resources as they are incredibly engaging and promote online safety messages in entertaining ways.

    2. BrainPOP videos

    BrainPOP’s series of online safety videos are perfect for the classroom and are a must for all schools and related activities, quizzes, and games are also available. Why not try your hand at Share Jumper, a free educational game that teaches you what is good and bad information to share online?

    Share jumper game

    3. Thinkuknow.co.uk

    CEOP’s Thinkuknow website is a great resource for any child aged between 5 – 18.

    Differentiated for different age groups, the website uses cartoon videos, games and interactive activities to deliver key online safety messages to children and also contains an area for teachers with free, downloadable lesson plans.

    This website reads information for children who are too young to read independently and has great advice for teenagers who are experimenting with relationships too.

    Thinkuknow’s Cyber Café, for 8-10-year-olds, provides a great place for children to apply their learning and practise using services like email safely by using simulations.

    thinkyouknow-cybercafe

    4. Penguinpig

    Written by Stuart Spendlow, Penguinpig is a fantastic story about a young girl who gets tricked online. It’s perfect for very young children and could be used to start to embed vital online safety messages as part of the curriculum in Foundation Stage and Key Stage One.

    5. Safer Internet Day

    Safer Internet Day (Tuesday 7th February 2017), provides a good opportunity for schools to focus on online safety and promote healthy digital citizenship. Nearer the day, free resources are released for classroom or whole-school use.

    6. Kiddle

    Kiddle.co provides a safer way for children to search the internet. Using Google’s Custom Search settings, it offers many benefits:

    • It’s safer: due to filtering and key-word blocking, there is less chance of inappropriate material being accessed.
    • Websites that are listed by Kiddle, particularly those that appear at the top of the results page when a search query is entered, are more likely to be written for children. This means that children using the search engine are more likely to find information that they can comprehend and will therefore find useful; an ideal solution when it comes to homework or independent research.
    • It uses big pictures: as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and Kiddle does a great job at displaying big thumbnails which in turn helps children find what they’re looking for.

    Of course, no search engine is perfect, but Kiddle provides both a good solution to those looking to promote safe-searching skills with children and opportunities for more relevant and useful Internet use.

    Talk about online safety often…

    The best way of dealing with online safety is to regularly be open with young people about how the Internet works and how they can use it sensibly and responsibly. Talk to your children often and use some or all of the resource above, and you’ll be making an excellent start.


    engage-esafety

    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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