Talking to Students About Online Safety
With the amount of young users on the internet growing every single year, online safety is more important than ever. The internet has become an integral part of life, for both adults and students - from being an educational resource, to consuming entertainment - and students are spending more time online than ever before. As a result, it's important that students and young people are properly informed about online safety and the potential risks they may encounter.
What's the Importance of Online Safety?
Education on online safety - it helps to protect students from a range of potential dangers that can arise from using the internet, including cyber bullying, exposure to inappropriate content, and online predators. By teaching students about online safety, we can help them to become more responsible, and reduce the likelihood of them becoming victims of online threats or inappropriate behaviour.
What's the UK Online Safety Bill?
When discussing online safety, we need to understand the legislation in place that exists to protect young people in the United Kingdom. On the 17th of March, The Online Safety Bill [Bill 285 2021-22] was introduced in the House of Commons. The Government stated the bill delivers its “manifesto commitment to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online while defending free expression”.
The Online Safety Bill is a set of regulations designed to safeguard the well-being of everyone using social media networks. By holding these platforms accountable for their users' safety, this bill will create more secure online environments and protect children from potential threats.
The bill will shield young people by:
- Removing illegal content, including removing content promoting self harm
- Preventing children from accessing age-inappropriate content
- Enforcing age-checking measures
- Risks and dangers to children on the largest social media platforms are more transparent
- Providing parents and children with clear avenues to report problems online
Introducing Online Safety to Students
Introducing online safety to students needs to be navigated in the right way. It's important to approach the topic in a way that's engaging and informative. This could involve using real-life examples of online risks, such as cyber bullying and sexting, to highlight the potential dangers of using the internet. By facilitating open conversations about online safety, we can create a space for students to share their experiences and learn from each other - as well as providing an open environment to ask questions to adults.
It's also important to encourage students to use their common sense when browsing the internet. We should remind them that they should never give out personal information or photos over the internet, and advise them not to meet up with anyone they've only met online. Overall, by educating our students on online safety measures, we can ensure they're better prepared for any potential risks they may encounter while browsing the web.
Discussing the Risks
We should also encourage conversations around general online etiquette - such as respecting other people's opinions, or not spreading rumours or gossip online.
By creating an open dialogue and informing our students about the potential risks they could encounter when using the internet, we can help them stay safe while navigating this ever-evolving digital world. It's only by being proactive and having regular conversations around this topic that we can keep our young people safe - responsible, and reduce the likelihood of them becoming victims.
We must also be mindful that everyone's online safety needs are different, and therefore may require more tailored approaches. We should get to know our students better so we can provide the appropriate guidance they need to stay safe while using social media platforms. We need to be asking questions like - where do young people hang out online? Which risks does this pose? By doing this, we can help them become more informed internet users who will actively protect their own safety on the web.
Tips for Staying Safe Online
Online safety is a shared responsibility - and one that often requires both parents and educators to work together. As mentioned, we need to ensure our students are aware of potential dangers, as well as provide them with tools that will help protect themselves and their personal information from potential threats.
Some basic tips for staying safe online include:
- Avoid sharing any personal information on public websites or social media networks
- Don’t accept friend requests from strangers
- Be aware of cyber-bullying and other forms of cyber crime
- Never meet up with someone you only know online
- Set strong passwords and use two-factor authentication whenever possible
- Protect yourself when using public Wi-Fi hotspots
- Always monitor your children's online activity
Online Safety Resources
By providing students with access to online safety resources, we can ensure they're well-informed and prepared.
At ICENA, we specialise in providing training courses for the education sector - creating safer spaces and more informed individuals. We provide a number of online safety courses for young people in primary and secondary schools, as well as those in higher education and university. If you need more information on our courses - please get in touch today, we're always happy to help.