What is ‘Online Safety’?
In simple terms, online safety refers to the act of staying safe online. It is also commonly known as internet safety, e-safety and cyber safety. It encompasses all technological devices which have access to the internet from PCs and laptops to smartphones and tablets.Being safe online means individuals are protecting themselves and others from online harms and risks which may jeopardise their personal information, lead to unsafe communications or even effect their mental health and wellbeing. Operating within an online space is something most of us simply do subconsciously, but have you ever stopped to consider the potential dangers which exist on the web, especially for our children? The recent Ofcom ‘Children and Parents: media use and attitudes report 2019’ report found that children are more engaged online than they’ve ever been. Ownership of smart devices is increasing and the range of content they are viewing is expanding. In an ever-changing world, ensuring pupils’ safety online has never been more important. It’s an all-encompassing duty and something every teacher must be vigilant of.
What are the risks?
It goes without saying that the internet can be an unforgiving place. Aside from the more obvious risks such as online bullying, grooming or device addiction, the way children are engaging with the online world means that we have to take stock of their mental health and wellbeing, the type of content they are viewing and what they are posting online.
This includes the heightened concern around fake news and what impact social media influencers may be having on our children’s behaviour. It also includes the ongoing debate as to whether online gaming and certain features of online gaming, such as loot boxes and skins, are categorised as gambling and are encouraging gambling habits in children.
The number of varying social media applications continues to grow too. Previously, if you educated yourself on the mechanics of Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram, you’d pretty much be covered.
However, we’re now in an age where a multitude of ‘apps’ exist, and they’re more complex than ever before. Whilst the above remain popular, how many of us have heard of TikTok, YOLO, FaceApp or LIKEE. All of these are all free to download and available at the touch of a button.
Such are the range of risks we now need to be aware of and the different platforms that children can access, it’s not easy to keep up to date.
Check out our online safety information for Parents and Students