Much of the focus for e-safety work concerns the Internet, given that it enables users to engage with unknown others through the use of email, chat rooms, social networking sites, games and so on. Schools E-Safety Policy suggests that:
- E-safety concerns safeguarding children and young people in the digital world
- E-safety emphasises learning to understand and use new technologies in a positive way
- E-safety is less about restriction and more about education about the risks as well as the benefits so we can feel confident online
- E-safety is concerned with supporting children and young people to develop safer online behaviours both in and out of school
The principles above emphasise that rather than e-safety being about restriction, it should instead help children and young people to use technologies in a reflexive and confident manner. Livingstone ( 2009), in a review of her extensive work on children and young people’s use of the Internet, outlines that there are both risks and opportunities in this area and that to restrict Internet use is to inhibit children’s development of strategies to manage risks effectively. It is also important to acknowledge that this is a complex area and that simplistic approaches to safety, such as those that focus on ‘stranger danger’ will not be sufficient to provide children and young people with the skills and knowledge they need.
There are various resources that provide guidance on managing e-safety. The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) is a voluntary organisation that focuses on managing risks such as cyberbullying, harmful e-content and loss of privacy. It offers a range of resources for teachers, children and parents at the UK Safer Internet Centre website. Kidsmart is another organisation that produces resources aimed at a variety of audiences, including primary school children. Similarly, Childnet International has a website that offers resources for the youngest children and considers the needs of children with special educational needs.
School policies and practices on e-safety need to attend to the following issues, depending on the age of children:
- management of technology use
- safeguarding (e.g. not sharing passwords)
- management of online reputation and digital footprints
- security in social networking sites
- safe searching on the Internet
- online grooming
- file-sharing and downloading
- embedded adverts and advergames
- data-mining and cookies
- viruses and scams
The management of e-safety develops most effectively in partnerships between schools, children and parents, but it is important for schools to avoid assuming that pupils will develop e-safety strategies at home. Schools can be an important source of information and support for parent and many schools provide advice for parents via their school website (See individual school websites in Case Studies)
One of the most successful ways of approaching the development of e-safety knowledge and skills with children is to embed the learning of them into meaningful digital literacy activities in the classroom (See Case Study 7) and not teach them as an isolated set of skills and practices.
There are now many resources that can help teachers, children and parents to develop a range of strategies for managing E-safety and E-safeguarding, some of which we have referred to here. However, the most important skill that teachers can develop in this context is reflexivity. Being constantly alert to the needs of the pupils, their prior experience and knowledge and the risks and opportunities inherent in any classroom activity will mean that teachers can draw on the resources to hand in strategic and thoughtful ways and can, therefore, guard against some of the dangers referred to above.
For References see 3.5.5 References / Links to Further Information