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ICT - Skills to stay safe online

It's that time of year again, when internet safety becomes a hot topic. But I worry that Safer Internet Day on 7 February has become just another thing in the busy school calendar, writes Jan Webb.

Teenagers I spoke to were able to recite the e-safety mantras they had learnt, but with a jaded sense of "here we go again". The challenge we face is keeping the message fresh, interesting and relevant, using the most current contexts and issues so that they remain engaged.

The message on Twitter is that learners should know where to turn if they see something worrying or upsetting, rather like the Green Cross Code ("stop, look, listen, think"). The boundaries between face-to-face and virtual worlds are increasingly blurred and we need to make sure they can transfer safety messages between the two contexts with ease.

E-safety should be part of the whole safeguarding policy, not a separate document. It needs to be part of everyday teaching in schools, not reserved for one day a year. ICT acceptable-use policies could be part of whole-school behaviour policies or standards of professional practice.

With social media tools, there is a fine balance between giving learners boundaries and making them so "safe" that the potential for learning is lost. We need to build our learners' confidence and develop their discernment - ie, the transferable skills that will keep them safe in so many situations.

Where to find it

Childnet has assembly ideas, board games and posters on internet safety.

Shock students into action with an interactive presentation by mshortland about staying safe online. They will be surprised how easy it is to find out about them on the internet, even when they think they are being safe.

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