Today is Safer Internet Day, celebrated across the globe and championed by TV and Radio stations. This year it’s all about getting creative online whilst staying safe.
We spoke to Neal Packard, Vice Principle at Mirfield Free Grammar School & Sixth Form to find out how he promotes safe internet in school.
The motto of Safer Internet Day this year is “Let’s create a better internet together”. Fine words, but how do we go about doing this?
“In my regular assemblies on e-Safety I often create a parallel comparing the internet to driving on the motorway (which hopefully not many main school students will have had experience of, but at least they can relate to it a bit!)
One of Ofsted’s key recommendations to schools is to ‘manage the transition from locked down systems to more managed systems to help pupils understand how to manage risks.’ Personally, I think this is one of the most important actions schools and parents can take, as it will have the biggest impact on lives. Driving gives people a machine which could wreak havoc, and there are no safeguards in place to prevent it, there are no filters, no pieces of software that block dangerous drivers. Thankfully the vast majority of drivers do have a sense of being safe so they don’t cause mayhem, and there are the laws of the Highway Code to make sure that the Police can monitor and punish any dangerous behaviour.
Most homes have totally unfiltered internet access, it is a relief that now some of the big internet providers are turning on default internet controls, but no matter how good we are at sheltering students, at some point they will stumble across something unsavoury. If we’ve kept them unaware of how to deal with these situations, how can we they expect them to deal with it? Similarly, if I’m driving down the M1, the mark of an experienced driver is predicting what might happen and how to deal with it, often at short notice. If we constantly block every single thing on the internet, when will students learn how to deal with them?
We can discuss the rules of using the internet in a way that supports a community of users, and not to be draconian. They are there to make sure everybody can use the internet in a safe and enjoyable manner, just like speed limits on the road. Only by empowering our young people to take charge of the internet, and help them to uphold the overwhelming positives of it while being aware of the dangers, can we “create a better internet together”.
Keeping students safe when using technology is very important to us. If this has left you wanting to find out more about how you can make the internet safer in your school, take a look at the e-Safety courses our education experts provide.