We want our learners to be as safe as possible using technologies. In order for that to happen they need to be aware of the potential risks involved and how to best protect themselves in the digital world. We also want our learners to be aware of their own conduct online and how what they do and post online can affect other people and themselves. We must take extra responsibility for our more vulnerable learners to ensure they are given the support needed and appropriate measures are put in place to ensure they are also safe online. Parents, carers, teachers and support staff all play a role in this mission.
Having open discussions about online activity is a good start. However, young people are unlikely to want to share everything they have been up to online. We need to ensure our learners are fully informed in order to make their own decisions to keep themselves safe online.
Some advice we suggest to our learners:
1. Be careful about the information, images and videos you post online and who you are allowing to view this information. Social networking sites' security can be misleading and it can be difficult to check and monitor what other people can see on your profile. Check what is private or public and remember you don’t have to post and share everything about yourself. Once you have posted it online it is there forever.
2. Sending inappropriate photos/video’s of yourself or of someone else who is under 18 years of age is against the law. If someone sends you an inappropriate photo/video of someone under 18 years of age and you keep it, you are also breaking the law. Never send or keep inappropriate photos/videos even if the person says they are over 18, it doesn’t mean they are telling the truth.
3. Keep passwords private, only you should know your passwords. Don’t make them easy for someone else to guess and access your personal information. Don’t believe everything you see or read on the internet, people can easily lie about who they are and pretend to be someone they are not.
4. Online fraud is happening more and more every day. Read emails thoroughly, don’t click on pop-up windows or random links. If an email asks you for personal or bank information don’t give it to them, it is most likely a scam to take your bank details and spend your money.
5. Think about what you are saying and posting online to others. Is it appropriate? Could it upset someone? You have a responsibility to others online as well, the same as in real life. Think about how your online activity may be affecting other people. This could also affect how others perceive you; if a potential employer googles you and finds inappropriate photos or posts from you this could damage your chances of getting a job.
6. If you are worried about something happening online remember you are in control. It is best to stay away from social networking sites, websites or people that make you feel uncomfortable online. On some social networking sites like Facebook, there are buttons you can click to block people and report concerns as well. Use these if you feel you need to. If you think you have done something online which could get you into trouble it is best to tell someone you trust and not keep it to yourself and make it worse.
Here are some really useful websites with more information about online issues and more advice for how young people can stay safe:
Here are two useful documents taken from the website above to help young people stay safe on social networking sites: