Safer Internet Day 2021 – Top Tips to Keep Students Safe
Safer Internet Day is a worldwide effort to raise awareness and focus on protecting children and young adults from the dangers of the online world. Safer Internet Day 2021 is celebrated on Tuesday, February 9th with a global theme of “Together for a better internet”.
Safer Internet Day 2021 is more important now than ever. The challenges brought forth by the COVID-19 pandemic have impacted every educational establishment around the country with students now spending the majority of their time in front of a computer, tablet, or phone. According to Statista, since COVID-19 shutdowns began, screen time in children between 14 and 17 has almost doubled. Furthermore, research by the UK-based Royal College of Paediatricians found out that increased screen time has led to negative mental health consequences for children and young people. Here are a couple of more facts from Safer Internet Day to consider:
- 46% of children and young adults see their online identity as a critical part of their offline identity
- 62% of children and young adults say that they need to be very careful of what they post and share online because of people being mean in their comments and reactions
We know that there’s a better way forward to keep students safe online. Here are a few places to start:
- Ensure your school or college has appropriate filters and monitoring systems in place – a web content filter enables schools to keep students safe as they spend more and more time online. Impero web:check is a real-time web content filtering solution to help schools comply with federal legislation like CIPA. It scans 150 million new URLs and 150,000 adult webpages per day ensuring students are protected from inappropriate or malicious content online.
- Create a school internet usage policy – Online safety should be a school-wide responsibility. A good school internet usage policy explains expectations for online use in detail and provide examples about what dangers exist, what is expected of students, and general advice for online communication. With online learning, students often bring school devices home. Therefore, asking them to read and sign the policy before they can take a device or use devices in the school property will encourage them to take online safety more seriously.
- Teach students digital citizenship – Research done by BMC Public Health shows that the optimal age to start teaching children and young adults about internet safety and digital citizenship is 7.2 years. Now more than ever, students should know how important their digital footprint is, and how their online personality affects their offline one. Students also need to be aware of cyberbullying and how to react if they become a victim. They need to have basic knowledge of how to spot phishing emails, how to look out for malware and other dangerous content. Teaching digital citizenship is not a one-time lesson. These lessons need to be taught often and the content needs to be revised regularly.
- Have an open conversation about sexting – We were all taught not to speak with an unknown person on the street, and never to take anything from a stranger. But these rules have changed, and now there are strangers on the other side of a computer. For Safer Internet Day 2021, we encourage you to start speaking openly about how to encourage safe internet usage in your future lessons. Online sex crimes have soared during lockdown and we need to make sure students are well informed and protected. Blocking these sites with a filter to safeguard students is a very important step, but it is not enough. Schools need to make sure they explain why these websites are blocked and where exactly the danger lies.
- Talk with parents – keep them informed – Students are spending most of their time at home and in distance learning. As much as schools can monitor and safeguard student wellbeing, parents play a vital role in this too. Find a suitable platform to communicate regularly with them like a Facebook group where you can update them on any concerns, post internet usage guidance, warn about phishing emails circulating in the school. This will both help keep students safe online and build a trusted relationship between you and the parents.
Safer Internet Day 2021 is here to remind us that the internet is both a dangerous and influential space. Together, we can keep students safe online and provide them with happier, healthier school environments.
If you wish to learn more about Impero web:check and how it can help you keep students safe, read more here, or book a demo below: