The next step for internet safety in schools

The world is a scary place nowadays, and with the internet ever-evolving, the online world can be even more frightening. The education sector carries a heavy burden on its shoulders when it comes to managing and monitoring child safety and it needs as much help as possible. The time to take action is now and how we do that is by giving schools the best tools and advice to help combat these online risks.

Every child will be taught about “stranger danger” but young people are now being targeted on the internet and it’s getting harder to filter out the genuine profiles from the ‘fake’ profiles. Cyber bullying has also become a huge problem over the past 10 years and has even led to suicide. People feel braver behind the safety of their computers as they become digitally anonymous, and as a result detach themselves from the negative behaviour that they are portraying online. They do this not fully understanding the damage that their actions can cause and believing that it’s acceptable to act in this way as they deem their online behaviour to almost ‘not be real’. This online world or “cyberspace” has become more accessible as a result of smartphones and tablets and the necessary precautions are not being put in place quickly enough.

Now let’s take a moment to review what children are accessing and looking at online; most children will have a Facebook account, they use WhatsApp to chat whilst also Tweeting, posting images on Instagram and are also more involved in the online world – but is it safe? The safety of children online is a growing concern for both parents and schools, with new challenges surfacing on a regular basis it’s becoming more difficult to know the best way to manage this.

Let’s take a look at the numbers – roughly 2 billion people use smartphones and this is increasing every day. With these numbers rising it’s becoming increasingly difficult for platform providers to keep up with the required levels of online safety for children – but even more concerning, no one seems to have identified the solution for complete safety of those online.

The ability to communicate online is getting easier and as a result, children are accessing the internet from a much younger age, so it’s important to manage their usage for safety reasons. Whilst there is no easy way to control this, apart from preventing children from using the internet, there are certain steps that can be taken to help reduce this risk.

With a growing number of mobile apps available, some of which are not appropriate for children, we need to be ever mindful of the access that we are allowing them to have. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are difficult to restrict and it’s important to teach children how to use them safely. These apps are fantastic as they provide the ability to communicate with friends through messaging, image sharing and video sharing – a capability that has become the norm for children today – but this form of media can fall into the wrong hands, or worse, media containing profanity, sexually explicit images or racism can make its way to the child.

However, there are steps you can take to reduce this risk; by educating children about online safety, such as not accepting anyone as a friend that they do not know, setting their profile as private and being careful with what they share on online. We need to ensure that these conversations are happening with children so that they feel comfortable asking questions and are willing to be more open about who they are talking to and what they are looking at online.

Weduc has taken several steps to help reduce these online risks; by giving schools complete control to decide who its users can communicate with, they can now create a safe and secure online environment for students, parents and teachers. Whilst there is still a risk for any child that uses the internet, Weduc have tackled some of the major problems associated with internet-use.

Weduc’s communication and engagement platform has had a massive impact on the safety of children online; by allowing schools to have more control and become more secure, it makes perfect sense for this to be the next step for internet safety in schools.