Without hesitation, UK statistics regarding internet use have become increasingly shocking over the last few years. Put simply, this online culture has revolutionised the world. According to research conducted earlier this year by the UK Safer Internet Centre, 50% of young people (aged 8-17) share their posts publically while 70% admitted to regularly seeing inappropriate images. With this comes great responsibility to teach the youth of today about the importance of remaining cautious online. Therefore, we have round up some top tips to help educators keep the online safety of their learners paramount.
- Have ongoing conversations within your provision about technology and online activity. Most adults have no idea what young people get up to online and turning a blind eye to this will only encourage greater silence. Engaging in regular conversation with learners, particularly in regards to the websites and apps that they are currently using, helps young people to talk about their online activity and discourages secrecy.
- Keep computers and tablets in public spaces in your provision. This makes teenagers more conscious of two things; visiting inappropriate sites and visiting unknown sites. According to UK statistics, the average age that children are accidentally exposed to explicit images is 8 years old, hence unknown sites proving to be a huge danger to young people. By having computers in a public area, you are helping to prevent learners from stumbling across inappropriate content.
- Adults working in the provision should familiarise themselves with the current technology favourites. The internet is an innovative and ever-changing platform and so the most popular websites used by young people change very quickly. Keeping up to date with the current favourites is a great tool for helping to keep teenagers (and yourself) aware of any dangers. Remember knowledge is power.
- Discuss the basic ground rules for online activity. Seemingly a very obvious choice but cannot be overlooked. When working with vulnerable young people, one cannot underestimate the importance of helping them to establish the basics with regards to online activity. Examples of things to reiterate could include:
– Don’t agree to meet people in chat forums
– If meeting people from social media, never go alone
– Never give out personal details such as addresses, phone numbers etc.
– Never give out bank details
- Tackle fundamental issues that occur online, such as cyber-bullying. The UK Safer Internet Centre’s research (noted above) also discovered that 40% of young people have suffered online abuse while 43% worry about how attractive they look when posting pictures online. Discussing cyber bullying in an open environment allows young people to consider their actions online and what they witness from others. Moreover, it encourages young people to come forward if they are victim of, or witness to, cyber-bullying.
Tackling the issue of online safety is always going to be a difficult task for educators, but with these few short tips, we’re confident that closer monitoring can be much easier.