Why is e-safety such an important issue?
It is commonly believed that e-safety is a technology issue and should be solely considered as an IT department?s responsibility. This is a misinformed assumption.
When a pupil uses Twitter to cyber bully a classmate, the issue isn?t that the social media platform has been used, but rather the fact that the pupil is demonstrating bad behaviour. Equally, if a teacher interacts with a parent on Facebook, authority lies with the school over the matter and it is not the fault of Facebook. E-safety is more a matter of education and knowing what is appropriate, rather than just being a simple system of filters and monitors.
The issue of e-safety is not exclusively one of technology and should not just be left to the IT department to manage. Instead it should be the responsibility of teachers, parents and pupils themselves to understand and manage accordingly.
The Internet can be used widely across the curriculum to support learning. Spotify can be used as a tool in a music class to discuss copyright issues and how artists are affected by pirating. Equally, Amazon and e-commerce in general can be analysed in regards to maths and economic studies. E-safety education is paramount to be able to use the Internet in this way.
'Stranger danger' has always been a safeguarding issue, even before the Internet was invented. The Internet has taken these dangers further, making existing methods of child exploitation more convenient for offenders by giving them access to technologies which facilitate their crimes against children. It is crucial that children are taught how to use the Internet in a way that keeps them safe from grooming and sexual exploitation.
Bullying occurred in schools before the development of social media provided bullies with further platforms to harass their victims. The issues surrounding e-safety are problems that have always existed in schools. Perhaps the new approach of ?Digital Wellbeing? will encourage those in pastoral roles to support online safety from a behavioural perspective, much like they do with problems that aren?t online.
The issue of e-safety was made most apparent when Ofsted introduced it as part of the school inspection, with schools that have no 'progressive and planned e-safety education across the curriculum' being deemed inadequate. There are many campaigns held throughout the year that highlight safety issues, including 'Safer Internet Day' and 'Anti-Bullying Week'. It is vital that these events are not seen as one-off occurrences, but rather as part of a much wider program of learning.