Cyber safety message still ‘failing’ to get across to young people in Notts

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NOTTS County Council says the message about cyber safety is still failing to get across to young people.

The authority said the latest research suggests that although schools are teaching more about e-safety, young people still aren’t changing their behaviour accordingly.

The council’s anti-bullying co-ordinator Lorna Naylor said this is particularly true for secondary school pupils.

“I am still delivering e-safety sessions for parents in schools, but also offer staff training so there’s a two- pronged approach,” she said.

“However, our aim is to set up more sessions with Notts secondary school staff as most of the sessions I’m invited to deliver for staff are in primary schools.”

The research is a result of findings from a recent survey which was carried out across eight local authority areas with more 9000 young people responding.

Most schools in Notts are building e-safety into their programmes of study as well as teaching children how to access digital skills and knowledge.

And as part of this work, the County Council has run over 200 sessions for parents and staff in schools over the last three years.

Added Lorna: “I’m hoping to involve all Notts schools in the Cybersurvey in 2013 around E-safety Day in February, so we can see exactly what’s going on in the county in terms of the online behaviour of our young people and compare it with national trends. This will also help inform our practice in schools.”

Notts County Council’s warning to parents, school staff and children about the importance of staying safe online also follows figures published this week which point at growing concerns over the influence of online pornography on youngsters.

Lorna acknowledged that the internet offered young people great opportunities, but it also threw up many risks.

She said: “Young people are undoubtedly quicker at picking up new technology, but parents mistake their confidence as competence to deal with every situation they may find on the net.”

“Knowledge of how something works should not be confused with the wisdom to use it safely. “

She added: “Parents, carers and even grandparents can learn a lot and have fun online by talking to their children and finding out what they like to do online and why. And whilst they are doing this, they can talk about risks as well.”

“Only getting involved when they want to restrict access or ‘lecture’ on safety will reduce the impact of their message to children.”

The government has promised to toughen controls around accessing inappropriate material online by offering a series of optional filters whenever a customer buys a new computer or signs up to a new provider.

But there are also calls for stricter controls which would see an automatic pornography block, with users having to ‘opt in’ to view adult material.

The Council has the following simple tips for all members of the family to keep them safe online:

• Keep all personal information private – including full home address, school address, e-mail, telephone numbers and passwords ;

• Never arrange to meet someone in the real world that you have only met online (without parent/carer consent) ;

• Respect others online by only sending or posting friendly messages ;

• Tell an adult if you receive a frightening or bullying text or email or message with unacceptable content ;

• Always ask permission before posting photos of family and friends online ;

• When using social networking sites for the first time, make sure that parents and children set up the profile together and use the privacy setting appropriate to their child. These need to be checked regularly and can be altered as the young person becomes more independent and able to deal with their own safety issues ;

• Encourage young people to keep their profile private and only link with contacts who they know in the real world ;

• Parents and children should discuss the files, games and applications before downloading and use reliable and legal sources ;

• Parents can learn a lot from their children by talking about and sharing activities on the internet. Putting together a list of sites and applications the family likes and enjoys and discussing why they may like to add new ones is a way of sharing any issues and concerns ;

• Families could draw up a simple set of rules that they all agree to follow and regularly discuss these in this ever changing world to keep themselves safe.