In December 2017 the Department for Education opened an inquiry into the teaching of sex and relationship education – which including elements of staying safe online.
Whether it is reading fake news, being contacted by a stranger, knowing what to share online, the skill of critical thinking needs to underpin children’s behaviour. We need to encourage children to think about the digital world in a way that continuously questions the veracity of what they are viewing and consuming.
We need to instil in our children the confidence to speak out, reinforcing with consistent messaging that there is a support network to support them. Children must feel empowered to speak out on their own behalf and that of others and that the education system has processes in place to support children when they do. It is critical that children and young people know what to do to get help.
Whilst no technology solution is 100% perfect they can play a hugely valuable role in keeping children safe online. Extending the curriculum through either ICT or RE/RSE to teach children to be capable tool users is vital to equip them to self-manage their online experiences. Whilst we continue to teach children about what to share and with whom, we must extend that education to the practicality of how this is actually achieved.
There is much discussion about digital resilience which encourages children to understand the risk, know where to seek help, learn from experience and recover when things go wrong. We have a suite of resources here.