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Educational Essay

Internet safety in schools

Introduction

Internet safety refers to raising the users’ alertness of individual safety and safety risks to confidential information related to internet use. Children in the modern world are more exposed to online devices due to improved technology. Most of them can access to mobile phones, tablets, computers, and laptops. The internet is part of their world today since many schools have adopted e-learning. Internet provides a wide scope of information and images based on the user’s preference. Online technology has many benefits and opportunities to the young generation through learning, but it also poses different risks to them. The UK government emphasizes on the significance of protecting the young people against inappropriate internet information. This paper aims to discuss internet risks among the pupils and the policies needed to promote internet safety in schools. The paper also elaborates on the involvement of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in schools.

Internet safety risks

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is the main threat of online safety and 50% of the teenagers are victims. Children share a lot of information about themselves, their friends or families on social media platforms. One can decide to ridicule the other through the posts and give negative comments. Online games also lead to cyberbullying in the sense that a member can attack and humiliate the other player. Cyberbullying may cause anxiety and depression to the victims and limit their focus on education.

 

Disclosing Private Information

Children post information online for public view. They do not understand the social digital boundaries of their personal information. Someone can use the information to get back at them or try and harm their loved ones. An example of Internet safety non-disclosure of the family plans and home address. Sharing of private life can encourage cyberbullying. Other kids can compare their lives with the posted information and feel bad or reply with insults.

Phishing

It is a cybersecurity attack that professional use to steal data via the emails. They trick the children to subscribe to unknown links and follow up their data. The message sent to the children makes them to reveal confidential information such as family codes of credit cards and family credential passwords. Children are easy targets because they are curious to know and explore anything new. Teachers should educate and advise the kids on the consequences of clicking on strange texts or emails to prevent cyberattacks.

Online Pornographic Materials and Sexual Predators

Pornographic information is one of the potential issues that young learners and educationalists face in the digital world today (Department of Education, 2021). A pupil may view sexual images online and try to imitate what is done. The child develops immoral behavior and can influence others. Children are innocent beings that do not differentiate if a person of genuine or lying. They are stalked on social media and lured into sexual activities without their knowledge. For instance, they trick a kid to pretend playing a sexual game on gaming websites. The government through FBI safeguards the children from online predators, while the teachers create awareness to the children on internet predators.

Internet Safety Measures

Online safety should be a crucial aspect of schools in protecting the children from internet risks. In the United Kingdom, all schools have internet safety measures that deal with incidences of online safety. Due to the development of technology, the digital environment is changing. Online issues faced in the previous year may not be the same currently and in future. Therefore, the internet safety policies should be revised regularly to cope with the new risks (Department of Education, 2021). The UK guidance documents an entire school approach that assists the teachers, parents, and other volunteers to train the children about internet safety.

Content Filtering in Schools

The current obligation for the school staff should be to set a boundary of children’ computer access. The content in the computers can be filtered using the right software and monitor system. The websites that may contain abusing language or irrelevant information to the pupils are inactivated and the children can only access educative date in the computer. The school’s policy on content filtering should match with the statutory guidance of the Prevent Duty. The duty helps to stop terrorists from attacking the pupils on the internet and prevent the children from being preyed on. The teachers should be trained to ensure that they are able to identify terrorist risks and formulate up-to-date procedures suitable to promote internet safety. The Prevent Duty explains that the school staff should always be alert and report any cases that may arise regarding terrorism.

 The software that filters the online content should have several characteristics. It should be adjustable depending on the age groups between pupils. For example, the content for a 7-year-old kid should be different from that for a 14 years pupil. The school staff should control the software without difficulty, supported by the stipulated policy, and recognize the internet users. The software must work at the school network and not the children’ personal device level that is used. It should detect any problem on the website used to ensure that the issues are tackled (NSPCC, 2021).

The staff that operates the filtering software should develop monitoring plans to help keep the children on check. It can be done by physically inspecting what the learner is doing online and checking the sites that the children have opened. If the staff sees a problem, then the pupils should be suspended from accessing the internet until further intervention. However, the pupils can be educated on the ethical considerations when using the internet to open their minds on unfiltered internet content.

Whole School Education Approach

The approach creates awareness on internet safety, the possible internet threats, and the ways that pupils can raise their views and opinions regarding the curriculum. The children should be taught about internet safety in the classroom with aid of teaching resources to help them converse their internet use. They will learn the safeguarding guidelines and protect themselves from being victims of cyberbullying and sexual predators. They will also know the kind of information to search on the internet. A whole school approach involves all the people that are affected directly or indirectly by the internet usage in schools.

Trained teachers act as a resource to educate the pupils on online safety. The Department of Education addresses the current problems about internet safety and the topics on healthy online use by the children. Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) curriculum is introduced to all schools in the UK and is mandatory to all grown pupils in primary and secondary schools. The statutory guidance states that the subject will help the pupils to engage in respectful, constructive, and healthy online activities (UK Council for Child Safety, 2018). It will generate the best online behavior that reduces the risks of online abuse.

Educating the pupils about online safety should across all lessons and not IT and computer classes only. Teaching resources on different ages assists teachers to offer online safety lessons and have an open conversation with the children. For instance, Share Aware is a resource that can teach pupils between 5 and 11 years old on photo sharing and online chatting with unknown people. Other lesson plans to mitigate online risks include internet bullying, It’s Not OK, and making sense of relationships.

Internet safety educative approaches should be categorized to create a room for the children with special needs. The methods used to teach them is different from the normal kids. The teachers should use verbal and visual materials and explain the issues in detail for the kids to understand. They should also keep reminding them about online safety by sending them messages or repeating the same topic at each lesson.

The school community can congregate and outside speakers invited to talk about online safety. The UK Council for Child Safety (2018) explains that external visitors promote education on internet safety as an outdoor resource. They provide information to pupils, teachers, and parents that they may not be familiar with. Visitors such as a member of the police force can educate the school on the tactics of terrorists that will help the learners take caution when online.

Schools need to promote e-safety education by opening chances for pupils to participate through committees, parent involvement presentations, and peer guidance. The ICT curriculum should be revised to prevent developing issues that come with improved digital technology. The education programs should be well planned and transparent incorporating all pupils in different curriculums.

Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs)

An AUP is article that contains practices and restrictions that an online user must accept in order to access the internet. For example, a rule such as no abusive language can prevent online bullying and create respect between individual on the same social media platform. All schools should have an AUP to encourage internet safety. The language used in the AUPs should be simple and clear ensure that the pupils understand. The teachers should discuss the policies with the pupils in class for them to adhere to the rules. Children cannot be entirely prevented from accessing the internet since learning is digitalized in the modern world. They can only be prohibited from visiting sites that are harmful including pornography and bullying.

AUP aims to educate the pupils, teachers, and parents about online activities because the internet is the main learning resource today. It defines the consequences of violating the agreement and poses for respectful internet behavior. A proper AUP should be reviewed and updated every time (UK Safer Internet Centre, 2021). Schools should consider policies its policies referring to the children individual internet access through their personal electronic devices such as mobile phones.

The school governors must ensure that pupils enjoy using the internet without any risks. The parents should be issued the AUPs to help in monitoring the security of the children when using the internet at home. Internet access in schools should be intended for educational purposes only including monitoring and filtering of inappropriate content. The mechanisms of internet safety risk identification, assessment, and reduction should be audited annually. The problems are handled immediately with the professional staff to prevent it from recurring.

Some of the AUPs for learners include: keeping private passwords safe, sharing of personal information only to trusted people that they are sure of, and access internet sites that they are permitted. The pupils should also send respectful messages to others and email the people they know or ask the teachers for approval. They should follow the website constraint before sharing any content, which should be legal. Most importantly, the children should not meet any friend that they have conversed online without the consent of a mature adult.

Schools have sufficient information on statutory guidance that helps them establish their own internet safety policies in a way that the pupils can easily understand and follow. For example, a school can design a policy that protects the pupils against online terrorists based on the Prevent Duty statutory guidance.

The Involvement of GDPR in Schools

The UK Data Protection Act 2018 stipulated the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that deals with the regulations of personal information. GDPR advocates for the confidentiality of the private data. Schools as organizations get access to pupils, parents, and staff’s personal information. When a child or a job applicant gets enrolled in a school, the staff collects their personal data. Different cases may call for the need of personal information in schools such as names, addresses, contact information, exam reports, and medical records. Since the school handles, processes, shares, and stores such crucial information of many people, GDPR has provided new regulations that schools should comply with according to the data protection laws.

The schools should meet some requirements that conform to the rules of data protection. They   need to protect personal data by checking the computer system to ensure that it is functions well and installing virus detection software. The storage system should be safe and limit the access to personal data. The Data Protection Officer (DPO) is appointed to supervise compliance in the schools. The DPO performs different tasks relating to GDPR: enlightening the data subjects about their rights of data protection and their responsibilities; offer training services to the school staff to ensure that the school shifts its data protection according to the new rules; draw attention to the teachers and governors on the failure to comply with the regulations; monitor and report cases that relate to data mishandling. A DPO should be independent and not an employee in the school. He can access all personal information and processing at any time. He is only answerable to the top leaders.

Since most schools are public entities, some information such as the pupils’ performance results are published for public view. The schools should develop a data retrieval system that determines the personal data to be relayed in the open and those that should be kept private. The published information is protected by the GDPR regulations to guarantee data safety. Transparency as a principle of GDPR, schools should inform the children and parents about the way they deal with personal information for them to understand the process.

Although internet safety looks at issues of access to unfit material, phishing, or dangers of terrorist, GDPR helps to achieve all these through data security. The pupils can use internet resources confidently while safeguarding their uniqueness. They also learn to recognize the usefulness of the personal information. Training the teachers on safe record keeping and email hacks will help to them to develop appropriate filters. Creating awareness to the parents on online security makes them have confidence with the school in processing their kids’ personal data.

Conclusion

Internet safety in schools is a major concern in the UK. The main problems that children face include; cyberbullying, phishing, sharing of personal information on social media, deceit from sexual predators, and access to unsuitable content such as pornographic videos and images. The schools should adopt different policies to ensure internet safety assisted by the statutory guidelines. Internet should be resource that enhances learning to enable the pupils to identify opportunities. Nevertheless, potential problems that arise regarding e-safety should be tackled effectively to prevent security risks. Support from the government, other schools, and non-government institutions help to drive and attain the objective of internet safety in schools. The support agencies such as the GDPR should work towards ensuring that the teachers and pupils know the internet dangers while working and learning in a safe online environment instead of focusing only of data security and regulations compliance. Click here to Place Order.

References

Department for Education (2021).  Keeping children safe in education. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education--2

NSPCC (2021). E-safety for schools. Retrieved from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/research-resources/schools/e-safety-for-schools

UK Council for Child Safety (2018). Education for a connected world. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/education-for-a-connected-world

UK Safer Internet Centre (2021). Appropriate filtering. Retrieved from https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-centre/teachers-and-school-staff/appropriate-filtering-and-monitoring/appropriate-filtering