Session 1: Supporting children’s safety on the internet

Online safety

abc4all (2010) Online Safety and Avoiding Dangers on the Internet Image [online]. Available from: http://home.abc4all.net/articles/view/147342/ [Accessed 14th October 2012].

Internet safety was explored in the first year of my course and re-visited this year. I believe that this is a vital aspect of ICT to cover in schools and one that parents, teachers and children must be aware of. This blog post builds on what I have learnt about supporting children’s safety on the internet during my course in University and on placements. Some of the ideas in this blog post were discussed in my ICT e-portfolio for Year 1; however rapid changes in the use of ICT in schools and new research has meant that these are supplemented by many new ideas.

Whilst this blog post focuses on children’s internet safety, teachers also need to be vigilant about their own use of the internet. Gareth’s blog provides some good reminders for teachers regarding the use of images in the classroom.

One of the most striking things about the internet is how quickly it has grown since its conception in the 1960s, with it now having a huge impact on everyday life (Duffty, 2006; Elston, 2007). 91% of children aged between 5 and 15 years of age now live in a household with internet access, this has increased from 87% in 2012 (Ofcom, 2011, p.2). The internet can be used to do many creative and amazing things, examples of which I will explore in future blog posts. However, the internet has a darker side, which this blog post is going to focus on.

Firstly, it is important to stress that many pupils understand the risks associated with using the internet and know how to protect themselves online (Green and Hannon, 2007; Ofsted, 2009). However, more recent research has suggested that the safeguards of the ‘real’ world are not always considered online (UKCCIS, 2012). At school sophisticated internet filters are used to protect children online; however these should be seen as a last line of defence because many homes will not have access to such technology.

As such, as teachers we need to build on children’s understanding of internet safety to ensure that they know how to protect themselves online. This can be done by actively teaching e-safety in schools, which research by Becta (2007) suggests helps to effectively reduce possible dangers associated with the internet. I have seen the following video from the ThinkUKnow campaign being used effectively in a Key Stage 2 class.

The class watched the video in small chunks, with the teacher pausing it to ask the children to respond to the questions posed by the video’s narrator. This discussion helped the children to reflect on their experiences of using the internet and how to keep safe online.

Duffty (2006) states that active teaching can be supported by providing children useful websites to learn more about internet safety. Helen has brought together a great collection of links on about online safety. These stimulating resources could be used to support the teaching of internet safety. Furthermore, sites such as sqworl could be used across the curriculum, with teachers placing appropriate resources on the site for children to access in lessons or at home.

The use of such bookmarking sites can be supported by introducing search engines specifically designed for children, such as Yahoo Kids or Ask Kids. These search engines could be used in school to familiarise children with them and this would encourage their use at home. This is support by research by Ofcom (2011, p.4) which suggests that 68% of 8 – 11 year old internet users say that most weeks ‘they only visit websites they have visited before’.

Alongside direct teaching, a school-wide acceptable use policy for the internet should be developed, which refers to its use in teaching and learning (Duffty, 2006). Specific areas in the policy could include the procedure for dealing with cyber bullying and how information literacy is taught in the school. Parents, children and teachers would need to be aware of the policy, including any amendments made due to changing uses of the internet. Discussions between these different parties would help to ensure that children are kept safe online.

In conclusion, a few, quite simple, precautions can be taken to help avoid the pitfalls of the internet. This allows for its benefits to be fully utilised in the classroom, which is for the benefit of everyone involved.

Internet safety poster – an example:

An example of an Internet Safety Poster adapted from Elston, C. (2007) Using ICT in the Primary School. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

References:

Online references have been hyperlinked throughout the blog post. However, as links can change, the full references for online resources are given below, alongside paper-based references.

Becta (2007) Harnessing Technology Review 2007: Progress and impact of technology in education. Coventry: Becta. Available from: http://dera.ioe.ac.uk/1425/1/becta_2007_htreview_report.pdf [Accessed 14th October 2012].

Duffty, J. (2006) Primary ICT: Extending Knowledge in Practice. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Elston, C. (2007) Using ICT in the primary school. London: Paul Chapman Publishing.

Green, H. and Hannon, C. (2007) Their Space: Education for a digital generation. London: Demos. Available from: http://www.demos.co.uk/files/Their%20space%20-%20web.pdf [Accessed 14th October 2012].

Ofcom (2011) Children and parents: media use and attitudes report. London: Ofcom. Available from: http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/research/media-literacy/oct2011/Children_and_parents.pdf [Accessed 14th October 2012].

Ofsted (2009) The importance of ICT. London: Ofsted. Available from: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/importance-of-ict-information-and-communication-technology-primary-and-secondary-schools-20052008 [Accessed 14th October 2012].

UKCCIS (2012) Advice on child internet safety 1.0: Universal guidelines for providers. Available from: https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/ukccis%20advice%20on%20child%20internet%20safety.pdf [Accessed 14th October 2012].