In a world where it is second nature to use a computer or mobile phone it is no doubt that our children and future generations will be tech savvy. But as a parent it is not easy to comprehend that your child will eventually be in a situation where they must use the internet alone, where they are forced to make choices, and where they will potentially put themselves at some level of risk or open themselves up to threats or danger.
Whilst the computing curriculum isn’t wholly focused on these issues as a main driver for studies, it is an issue that teachers are aware of, and that is apparent as a natural progression of computing. And it is important to ensure our children are educated in a way that they can make informed decisions over what, how and when they share information but also what to do if they are unsure.
Within Key Stage 1, students are taught to use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; identify where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies.
As part of Key Stage 2, students are taught to use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly; recognise acceptable/unacceptable behaviour; and identify a range of ways to report concerns about content and contact.
BECTA, in their report and advice booklet “Signposts to Safety” look at ways teachers can help keep children safe online and offer guidance for teaching this as part of Key Stage 1 and 2.
According to BECTA, “Children and young people are using technology in new and exciting ways, enhancing and enriching their lives with the many tools on offer. Young people are no longer passive recipients of online information, but are increasingly creators of digital content, using social software tools to collaborate within a multimedia landscape. In their exploration of the technologies, young people are not only developing their ICT skills, but also a whole host of ‘softer’ skills – creativity, communication and networking skills, for example – which will be much in demand of employees of the future.
“Undoubtedly new technologies bring new risks, but the Demos authors found that ‘contrary to society’s assumptions about safety, this generation is also capable of self-regulation when kept well-informed about levels of risk’. Schools have a duty to help children and young people remain safe when online, whether that use of the internet occurs inside or outside school. Also, as the Demos report states, ‘schools need to respond to the way young people are learning outside the classroom’ and ‘develop strategies to bridge formal and informal learning, home and school.”
It’s a real benefit that when using the Serif Design Suite there is no need to go online so teachers can be safe in the knowledge that younger children are learning in a safe environment, whilst still being creative. But it is still important that these measures are instilled into children for the future, and in the event that they may wish to go online to enhance the content of their work through the Serif Design Suite or for other work that they may progress to in the future.
If you would like more advice for your school, the BECTA advice booklet can be found at: http://www.mmiweb.org.uk/publications/ict/esafetyks1and2.pdf