You hear of so many fearful stories about children using the internet, such as: online strangers, cyberbullying and issues with protecting personal identity.
All schools have Acceptable Use Policies (AUP’s). These outline the rules for using the internet for staff and children and the children’s parents are often required to sign them. Here is an example AUP for Leicestershire schools for use with younger primary children. It has been worded appropriately for young children:
Therefore it is vital to make children aware of the dangers and also how to prevent such situations. I would be inclined to use this ‘internet safety quiz’ with children, go through it together and discuss the answers. This would consolidate the importance for being careful whilst on the internet, outlining the rules and provide the opportunity for children to ask ask questions.
CBBC offer a wide range of tools suitable for teaching children about internett safety with themes that children may be familiar with e.g. Tracy Beaker – a TV show from CBBC.
After informing children about the importance of internet safety I would leave a quiz on the classroom PC/iPad for the children to use freely, this would encourage them to continue thinking about it after the group discussion; not just dismiss it. Here is a suitable quiz at safekids.com:
Another way to approach eSafety would be to let the children watch a video, here’s one that is suitable for Early Years children:
As a teacher it will be my responsibilty to safeguard myself and the children against online intrusion. There will be firewalls and filters in place but I must ensure children are supervised at all times when online and to check any websites prior to the children accessing them. Here are 3 alternative search engines that are safer to use with children, but still require supervision:
All schools require at least one member of staff to attend Child Exploitation and Online Protection training, who will then cascade this training to other members of staff.
‘Hector’s World Safety Button’ is a fantastic idea that I wish to use in my classroom. It is a free download that installs Hector the Dolphin to swim in the top right-hand corner of your computer screen. If the children, or teacher, sees something that they do not like they can quickly click on Hector to cover the screen.
It was recently in the news (5th Feb 2013) that children as young as five should be taught about internet safety due to the increasing exposure of onlline pornography and cyberbullying. The whole story can be read here.
The UK have a whole day dedicated to Internet Safety, I think this could have a huge positive impact on schools; teachers could plan many activities around internet safety in a holistic manner so the requirements of the National Curriculum are still being met at the same time. UK Safer Internet Centre have a great range of resources and activities for use in the classroom – free to access or dowload.
Lesson Plan – This is a really flexible lesson plan adaptable for use with KS1 and KS2. It covers links across the NC through PSHE/Citizenship and Literacy.
“No doubt about it — TV, interactive video games, and the Internet can be excellent sources of education and entertainment for kids. But too much screen time can have unhealthy side effects.” Kidshealth.org is an excellent website for keeping children safe and healthy whilst letting them engage in ICT activities. It’s all about getting the balance right by limiting the time that children spend on such equipment and ensuring there is adequate supervision.
Here are a few websites that are aimed at children to help them learn about eSafety:
Safe Cyberspace Surfing
Your Online Identity
Although I was aware of the importance of e-Safety, I was guilty of perceiving the subject as boring. But, much to my relief, it has been far from it! There is a huge range of resources ‘out there’ to help safeguard children and teachers and many fantastic materials to teach children about the dangers and how to prevent or deal with such situations. I now have a bank of websites, ideas and even lesson plans that I could use in schools, as well as being aware of the safety precautions I need to take as a teacher to safeguard myself.