NEAC, Transforming Education

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Social Networking Child Safety

social networking child safety

Social Networking Child Safety

Parents worry about Social Networking and Child Safety the BBC reports in the article  A third of poorest pupils ‘without internet at home’

As a parent I am used to being unpopular. I work hard to be a constant source of embarrassment to my children and devote a great deal of energy ensuring the house rules are as unreasonable as possible. I can see you nodding sagely in appreciation.

However in one area I swim against the tide of child antagonism. I am one of those parents who understand  social networking, child safety and technology better than his children. That is not because I have locked them in a Tibetan monastery, tempting though that might be. My work for Nexus, researching innovative teaching and learning using technolgy has helped me become very aware of the dangers and excited about possibilities.

Social Networking

Social Networking

We hear horror stories about the risks to young people of social networking sites and there is a plethora of scare videos to put you off entirely.

It is tempting to ban it all but even that strategy is not without risk. It really is time, I believe, to get to grips with technology and understand it properly. By hiding away from social networking and banning access everywhere we can think of we could find ourselves putting our children in greater danger. For my own part I would rather send my children to a school that talks about the problem of bullying than one which denies its existence. The same is, arguably, true for keeping safe on the Internet. Children, and adults, with a full awareness of privacy settings and the nature of sensitive information have the tools they need to avoid and even combat Internet bullying.

Child Safety

This is my point. The school curriculum should engage with technology as much as possible actively teaching the use of social networking sites and how to stay safe. In addition parents really need to engage with ICT so that they can support their children in learning from, about and with technology while staying safe. There is a lot schools can do to help this.

Teaching about social networking will have the added benefit of providing a further route to learning. Schools struggle to get the best from VLEs or Learning Platforms many of which offer messaging, blogs and wikis. The truth is that we all need to have a good understanding of how these things work, to know how our Internet behaviour impacts the lives of others and how we can make a positive contribution.

The Curriculum

Schools have an important agenda in raising standards and improving exam results. Many would argue that the main purpose of education is to enable young people to take their place in society. Parents constantly nag their children about maximising opportunities. Working effectively with social media can have real benefits. After all, you and I are converts. I’m writing the blog and you are reading it. Jean Meister describes 2013 as “The Year of Social HR”. If we include effective use of social media in the curriculum we might be able to have our cake and eat it. School leavers with good exam results, thinking skills and employability skills.

Relationships and Society

I firmly believe that we are defined by the quality of our relationships. Every school I have worked in has promoted an ethos of responsible and caring relationships. Today many grandparents keep in touch with their grandchildren through texts and social networking sites. Technology has as much potential to build relationships as it does to destroy them. The journey begins with people who know its power, respect the privacy of others and behave with integrity.

If you want to review safeguarding at your school or need some help developing policies and the curriculum we would be happy to help. Contact us.

For parents and carers wanting a little help to support their children you might find the link below helpful.

By Chris Sweetman