When I was growing up, the height of technology was the PC in our family dining room, and our internet connection could be severed if somebody deigned to pick up the telephone. Here at TheSchoolBus, we don’t have any “digital natives”, that is people born since around 1998 who have been immersed in technology since birth. We were born before the internet age. I can still remember doing my research in high school using Encarta, and being one of the rare kids in my class who used a word processor for homework. It sounds incredible, but a web was genuinely just somewhere a spider lived.
At primary school, we had one computer – a BBC Micro, which seemed amazing to me. By the time I reached secondary school, things had moved on somewhat. We had a computer suite, but it was only used during ICT lessons, and only really for word processing. We couldn’t get online.
Fast forward fifteen years, and the art of the classroom debate is under threat as the correct answer can be found in seconds using Google on a Smartphone, and children are constantly at risk of seeing inappropriate material. Something far more dangerous lives in the web.
A study carried out by the BBC and the UK Safer Internet Centre, a group of charities, found that, although the minimum age for many social media sites is 10 or 13, almost two million British children as young as eight years old routinely come across violent or sexually explicit material while using mobile phones and computers, and the papers constantly bombard us with tales of the outrageous content of seemingly innocuous online videos.
The study also found that children aged between six and twelve believe that it is acceptable to share personal information online, including images, names, addresses and passwords.
The findings of the study illustrate that teaching children about e-safety instils a valuable life skill. Children need to be empowered to safeguard themselves, made aware of the potential problems and given the tools to deal with them.
Schools in England are required to safeguard children and this duty also extends to the online world. In fact, the new computing curriculum for September 2014 states that primary school pupils need to be taught to use technology safely and keep their personal information private.
For Safer Internet Day, TheSchoolBus has an updated collection of guidance documents, resources, acceptable use templates, a model ICT policy and articles regarding what you can do to secure e-safety in your school! Do take a look.