Mother knows best

New Tablets for Schools research reveals students’ advice on staying safe online over the summer holidays

By Robyn Bainbridge

“Listen to your mother – she knows best!” has surfaced as a key piece of advice in a new charter issued by internet savvy teens about how to stay safe online this summer. This charter of wise guidance has emerged from education charity Tablets for Schools research in which schools across England and Scotland were asked “What advice would you give to other people your age about staying safe online?” 

The query was put to 2,473 secondary school boys and girls aged 11-17 in 9 schools. Results of the survey show that over a quarter (28%) of the 11–17 year olds warn of ‘Stranger Danger’ and over one quarter (26%) said they had seen something that had upset, concerned or frightened them online.

The charter has been dispensed just in time for the start of the school holidays, when many young people will be spending more time online. The recommendations will be of interest to young people, parents and teachers alike:

1. ‘Stranger Danger’ – stay away from people unknown to you. People can lie about themselves so don’t accept friend requests from unknown people and certainly never meet them. Accepting unknown friends gives a stranger access to photos, details and friend lists, putting you and others in danger. Block anyone suspicious.

2. Don’t share personal information – don’t give away any personal information such as where you are going or where you live. Also remember to keep privacy settings ON – 82% of these savvy teens already know how to change privacy settings.

3. Think before you post – be kind. If it’s something you wouldn’t say face to face, then don’t say it online either. Don’t post something that you would not be happy to put in a public place, nor something that you wouldn’t want your parents to see, especially photos. Pictures posted can be photoshopped and used to bully others with. Remember, once posted, everyone will be able to see it and it may be hard to take down completely. Also remember: future employers look at profiles.

4. Avoid unfamiliar, inaccurate or inappropriate content – don’t click on pop ups and remember to virus check everything you download.

5. Report it – “Listen to your Mother, she knows best!”– Tell your parents, tell CEOP, tell a teacher, just as long as you report it. If you don’t, the bully will keep bullying.

The full charter of advice is available to download here.

Mary Palmer, Director of Tablets for Schools said: “The internet is a positive resource for young people, but the virtual world can present a real danger. Naivety and inquisitiveness can be a threat to safety.

‘The report reinforces the value of internet safety advice learnt in school. But it also highlights the clear opportunity for encouraging a new approach to Internet safety education, where young people are empowered to educate their peers, rather than adults enforcing guidelines upon them. This peer-to-peer approach could be delivered through use of toolkits, video and workshops. Peer-to-peer support and mentoring is a model proven to be successful in schools in areas such as bullying and could be effectively extended to the discussion and teaching of personal internet safety.

“Tablets for Schools best advice, backed up by leading academics and teacher leaders, is that schools must get their preparation right before implementing 1:1 Tablets. The key is to recognise and meet the risks squarely and in a balanced way so as to unleash the astounding power of these devices to improve education and support teaching in our schools.” 

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