The use of digital technology is now seen as an essential part of everyday life. The number of SMS (text) messages and emails sent everyday greatly exceed the population of the planet. Nearly every company, organisation, agency, school and local authority has a presence somewhere on the internet, allowing them to engage different people in different ways.
It should be remembered that digital technology reaches far and wide, not only computers and laptops, but consideration should also be given to technologies such as: Ipads, Ipod Touches and Iphones; Xbox 360; Playstations; Nintendo Wii; mobile phones and PDA's, and anything else which allows interactive digital communication.
While digital technology can be used in positive ways, it can also be used in extremely negative ways. Identity theft is on the rise from adults publishing too much information about their life onto a social network. Cyber bullying is another negative way in which technology can be used, where children and young people are able to anonymously bully classmates and teachers, while adults also find themselves at greater risk of cyber bullying through social media. Paedophiles can also use this technology to contact, groom and blackmail young people in the virtual world with a view to abusing them in the real world.
The risks are real but many people do not see that activity within a virtual world can have an effect in the real world. Comments posted onto social networking sites have led to staff being disciplined and young people being bullied. Many are also unaware that some activities in the virtual world are criminal offences and can lead to prosecution.
The school primarily sees e-Safety as describing pro-active methods of educating and safeguarding children and young people while they use digital technology. In order for them to remain safe we should educate them not only in the dangers but also inform them who they can contact should they feel at risk and where to go for advice while still promoting the many benefits of using digital technology, thereby empowering them with the knowledge and confidence of well researched good practice and continuing development.We have adopted the Zip It, Block It, Flag it motto for our school, as well as Be SMART.
In our school, e-Safety concerns safeguarding children and young people in the digital world. It emphasises learning to understand and use new technologies in a positive way and is less about restriction and more about education about the risks as well as the benefits so we can feel confident online. At the Holt, we do not have a locked down system but a managed one, meaning the children are not shut off from all websites but some serious ones are filtered. We use this as a teaching tool to provide children with the skills needed to surf the net outside of school as well. E-Safety at the Holt is concerned with supporting children and young people to develop safer online behaviours both in and out of school and providing them with clear channels and the confidence to talk to people should they experience anything but positivity. We have a comprehensive e-safety curriculum that is delivered across the school.
It is important that parents speak to their children about how they can keep safe and behave appropriately online.