Top tips for educating children about online safety

The lack of clarity around online safety best practice is putting teachers in a tricky situation, says Nick Shaw, Norton’s EME VP of sales and marketing, in this opinion piece

Although teachers, parents, school governing bodies, Ofsted and central Government have all been looking to lead the charge when it comes to e-safety education, as of yet no one party has taken formal ownership of the issue.

Currently, e-safety education remains a grey area in schools. And this lack of clarity around online safety best practice is putting teachers in a tricky situation, both when it comes to meeting the technology and IT guidelines of the new curriculum, and also keeping children safe and secure on these connected devices.

Until a time comes when a unified approach to e-safety education is adopted, it’s important that teachers in the UK take responsibility for installing a culture of online safety education in their classroom. If you’re unsure how to go about doing this, our top tips below are a good place to start.

Educate children about the internet.

It sounds simple but educating pupils about the internet is step one in making sure they remain safe when online. Setting simple ground rules about the dangers of clicking on suspicious links, oversharing and talking to strangers online – in the same way that teachers would set boundaries about general behaviour in the classroom – will help pupils with online etiquette.

Become an expert.

If a school doesn’t have funding in place to support e-safety training, there are plenty of free resources online to help them and their colleagues make sense of online safety. Get Safe Online and Cyber Street Wise are just a few of the organisations we have been working with to help teachers instill a culture of e-safety education in the classroom. 

Change their perception of the online world.

Children often struggle to see the implications or severity of their actions online – one example of this is cyber-bullying. It’s important you encourage pupils to view the online world as an extension of their real world. This means anything they wouldn’t do or say in the real world they shouldn’t be doing online. To help change perceptions, get them to asking themselves the following questions: Would I do or say this in the school playground? Would I share this information or secret with my friends?

Keep security software up to date.

When setting up a classroom, make sure all devices that allow pupils access to the internet – smartphones, tablets and PCs – are equipped with age-appropriate security software and privacy filters. With multiple threats now facing children online, it’s important to adopt the right level of security software.

About the author

Nick Shaw is Norton’s EME vice president of sales and marketing.

PCR’s Sector Spotlight on Education – in association with Tech Data – is running throughout July 2016 – click here for more articles

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