Social media and online safety

Social media and online safety for children and young people.

There’s several benefits to children and young people using the internet and social media. Children can stay connected with their friends and family, express themselves and develop new ways of learning. But social media and online safety is vital to make sure they can enjoy the internet with minimal risks.

social media and online safety

The risks of social media and online safety

The online world is ever evolving. New social media channels start up and their algorithms change frequently. Therefore, we need to make sure we’re aware of what’s going on and understand the changing digital world.

Children can connect to others and can be contacted at any time through social media, online games and communication apps. However, this means they may struggle to switch off or feel overwhelmed if they’re getting numerous messages or notification alerts. Some social media platforms and online games allow live streaming. Because it happens in real time, it makes it difficult to monitor and control what content children see. It could include content that’s sexually explicit, radicalising or bullying.

Every time we post anything online, we increase the risk of exposing our personal information. Photos, videos, and location settings mean people can see where we are at any given time. For children, it increases the risk of them being groomed or abused by adults posing as children to gain their trust. They may also experience cyberbullying or trolling by fake or anonymous accounts. Digital safeguarding is therefore fundamental.

What can we do?

We all have a responsibility to keep children safe online. Here’s some key practises your school can follow:

  • Make sure your school has robust online safety policies in place. Including school filtering and school firewalls. Review these regularly and update them if needed.
  • Set a code of conduct for staff, students and guests so they understand the acceptable use of the internet and social media during school.
  • Discuss online safety and digital safeguarding with your students. Your teachers should have the resources and knowledge to be able to teach digital best practices.
  • Listen to any concerns from children, parents or colleagues about any new trends that they find worrying.
  • Support parents and carers by including advice and resources in your communications to them.
  • If your school has an online presence on social media, make sure you only use authorised accounts to communicate with your audience (especially children). Never use a personal account to interact, and always use age-appropriate language when posting or communicating.

We need to be aware of our digital footprint. Children may look up the personal social media accounts of staff working with them. Make sure your accounts are free from any inappropriate or harmful content. Consider making your profiles private and avoid making any personal information about you visible. We’d also recommend not accepting any follow/friend requests from children (or their family).

Online safeguarding policies for your school

Digital Safeguarding is how we protect children from physical or mental harm or abuse. Schools need to have clear digital safeguarding policies in place to cover how to safeguard children and respond to any incidents. Your staff, students, parents and visitors need to follow these policies.

Finally, your school needs to have appropriate shool filtering and monitoring in place that applies to all devices (even personal ones). We can help with this! Our industry leading web filtering complies with KCSIE, Prevent Duty, Internet Watch and national standards. Get in touch with us to find out more.

Additionally, we’ve put together a comprehensive digital safeguarding guide you can download for free!

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