is a very emotive subject - particularly among those involved with the
welfare of young people both at home and in educational establishments.
Everyone has to be aware of the issues but at the same time a sensible
and educated approach needs to be taken. For those charged with the welfare
of young people, there are sometimes free seminars available on the subject
- check for details on the esafety sites provided here
Internet Day 2015. Or, ask your local Authority and/or eSafety Officer.
You can read a useful overview on esafety, presented by the NEN (National
Education Network) here.
Also, read an article on esafety here
from the The Educational Technology Site: ICT in Education.
I would particularly draw your attention to the comments under the question:
"As a young person what do you think would
be most helpful to protect young people online?"
When we think of esafety,
there is an initial tendency to think of teenagers and their ability to
access inappropriate material or become involved with potentially careless
(and/or dangerous) associations with online strangers. However, we should
think of all young people - many children under the age of 11 have access
to and use computers on a regular basis, both at home and in school. Whilst
very young children may not face quite the same risks as older children
- who have more privacy and greater mobility afforded to them - they could
nevertheless be upset if they innocently stumble upon, for example, inappropriate
images. However, even as responsible adults, we have to face the fact
that we can only go so far with protecting young people by blocking online
content and if we take this too far we will cause unnecessary resentment
From the moment children get onto a computer connected to the Internet,
we must begin educating rather than scare mongering. This is best done
by monitoring activity by being present with the child in the same room
and not leaving him/her alone whilst using the computer. An openness and
calm discussion should always be forthcoming if any concerns arise and
the child should be encouraged to summon the attention of the parent/carer
at any time when uncertainty arises and clarification is called for. One
way to begin this process is for the child to be given a simple project
- perhaps to create a page of pictures on a favourite subject or create
an information sheet on a personal interest. (I can sense the fear in
some people already!) Seriously though, parental guidance in a task like
this can be very rewarding and give much needed confidence to both parties.
Schools are particularly worried about esafety and rightly concerned about
the expectation of parents that their children are in safe hands. However,
sometimes situations occur that are not the deliberate or careless fault
of the educational establishment and it should be appreciated that on
occasion, 'accidents' happen without recourse to exacerbating the situation
I have worked with a number of schools in past years and the instances
of computer/Internet related esafety issues have been quite small, given
the large population of children attending schools. There have been a
few instances of individuals using VLE based email inappropriately, but
by and large the teachers have been on the case quickly and resolved the
problems effectively. It is worth remembering that anything new gets played
and messed with for a few weeks, but sooner or later the novelty wears
off and it becomes a normal part of sensible daily activity.
Games Machines and Instant Messaging Services
A situation many parents overlook is that many gaming machines can access
the Internet to allow for Instant Messaging (IM) in the same way that
messaging services such as Skype and Yahoo can.
Teenagers in particular need to be consciously aware of the safety issues
surrounding this easy access to complete strangers. Camaraderie can quickly
build up between people when messaging and it is easy to foster an atmosphere
of misplaced trust. Of course, you'd be wasting your time telling most
teenagers not to use messaging, so instead ask them to be vigilant for
any signs that someone is being too interested in personal information.
Unless they have already physically met and know the person as a friend
e.g. through school, they cannot be certain of what age or sex the person
may be, regardless of what they might have been told in the messaging.
Furthermore, no person should ever give out personal details of real name,
address, email or phone numbers - for txt messaging or voice calls - to
anyone over the Internet whom they do not know and trust in physical person.
So long as young people adhere to these basic rules
of engagement, they can enjoy their gaming and instant communication safely
and parents/carers can also feel more relaxed. Any young person
who suspects that something is not quite as it seems should either inform
a trusted adult or use the CEOPS site to report a concern. (Information
Social Networking - Myspace, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Social networking sites have been a rapidly growing area of Internet activity
- particularly, though not exclusively, among young people. All of these
sites are set up to encourage users to provide as much information about
themselves as possible - their names, activities, locations, interests...
and so on. In the excitement of meeting new 'friends', people of all ages
can very quickly expose more about themselves than they would really like
to in more sober moments. Anyone who places any information, photos, videos,
or comments should ask themselves things like:
"Would I let my grandmother see this?"
"Would I want my parents/carers to know about this?"
"Would I want my worst enemy at school to read or see this?"
"Would I want a complete stranger to have this information?"
"If I was in the school canteen, would I openly expose my activity
to everyone present?"
The Internet is a fascinating place. We can access the whole world from
the safety of our own room at home. It's very easy to feel invulnerable
to external activity. We must all be aware of this fact - whether child
Many (if not most) young people have their own mobile phones - capable
not only of voice conversations, but also sending text messages, taking
photos and videos, sending them as attachments to other people - to their
mobile phones or email accounts - or uploading directly to social media
sites. As with online eSafety, young people should be encouraged to report
any abuse or concerns they have regarding the use of mobile/smart phones
or the receipt of unwanted information or images, etc.
Additional links on the subject of eSafety
Camden Grid for Learning
- KidSMART e-Safety
News report 26 April 2013: Schools 'should teach how to view porn',
sex forum says.