Online Safety

Online Safety

More and more of our lives are lived online, particularly for children and young people who have grown up not knowing anything different. Digital connectivity brings many benefits, it can help streamline our day-to-day, enhance our learning and work, provide us with and connect us to a range of fun activities for our leisure time, and help us develop and maintain relationships with friends, family, and colleagues. With this however does come some challenges and risks, and whilst not unique to the digital environment, they can be more pervasive and harder to recognise in an online context. Being aware of the risks and having the appropriate knowledge and skills to respond are key parts to practicing online safety and reducing the risk of harm. It is also important that pupils understand what acceptable behaviour online looks like, not only of other people but also of themselves.  


What are some of the risks to online safety? 

 When we think some of the risks of being online, our first thoughts may go towards threats of serious harm and problematic behaviours, including: 
  • Bullying and exclusion  
  • Sexual exploitation  
  • Grooming  
  • Abuse  
  • Radicalisation  
  • Exposure to inappropriate and distressing material 
  • Spread of hate speech and propaganda  
  • Misinformation  
  • Scams and fraud  
  • Gambling  
  • Deepfakes (image, video, sound, or GIF that places someone’s face or body and imposes it onto something else) 
However, it is also important to be aware of some of the other harms that can be created or exacerbated by being online, which can have a negative impact on our wellbeing and engagement:
  • Disconnection from ‘real world’ 
  • Fixation/obsession with social media  
  • Overreliance on technology  
  • Lack of discernment between real vs. curated content 
  • Development of low self-esteem 

Online Safety in School 

There are multiple opportunities to integrate teaching about different aspects of online safety into the curriculum, including when teaching PSHE, RSE, citizenship, and in IT and computing. There may also be other opportunities to incorporate themes into other lessons, for example teaching media literacy in English lessons.   The digital world is constantly evolving, with new technology, apps, and platforms developing frequently. It can be tricky to stay on top of these and what children and young people are using, and so focusing on the knowledge and skills that underpin safety online can help pupils to navigate their online world in the safest way possible, regardless of device, platform, or app. These include:  
  • Being able to effectively evaluate a range of online content  
  • Recognise the different techniques and contexts of persuasion  
  • Recognising the importance of upholding the same standards of behaviour, online and offline  
  • Understanding why some people may behave differently online  
  • Being able to identify a wide variety of online risks and knowing how to manage these depending on the context  
  • Knowing how and when to seek support 
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