Webwise, the Irish Safer Internet Centre promotes the safe, responsible use of the Internet and mobile devices by children and young people. It is co-funded by the European Union Safer Internet Programme and the Department of Education and Skills. Our aim is to ensure that children, young people, schools and parents are aware of the benefits of the Internet as well as its risks. Visit www.webwise.ie to access our Internet Safety information, advice and educational resources.
What can schools do to promote safe use of the Internet?
The Internet and digital media can help our pupils learn, create and communicate in ways that we would never have imagined in our youth. The online world is very much part of their lives, they are “growing up digital” with technology embedded in every aspect of their lives.
Schools have a duty of care to their pupils, and this includes helping children and young people to use new digital technologies safely and responsibly, wherever and whenever they go online.
Digital literacy skills are key life skills for children and young people today. They need to be media savvy and know how to effectively search for and evaluate online content; know how to protect personal information and reputation; know to respect copyright and intellectual property and know where to get help if problems arise. Schools are well placed to help children and young people to develop these skills, and should look for opportunities across the curriculum to reinforce online safety messages.
The school can:
- Implement and update an Internet Safety Acceptable Use Policy (AUP).
- Educate students on how to be safe online and when using ICT.
- Be part of a content filtering/monitoring system.
- Acceptable Use Policies (AUPs)
- Visit Webwise to see AUP information and templates as well as educational resources in teaching the AUP to pupils. The school’s AUP and its prcedures will need to be accessible to pupils, in a language they can understand, if they are to apply it. Discussing the relevant parts of the AUP will help pupils draw up and agree Responsible Use Rules for their classroom.
- Whole School Education Programmes
- Visit Webwise to see classroom-ready Internet Safety teaching and learning resources to help enable pupils to discuss their use of the Internet and to learn how to safeguard themselves and others when online. Webwise working with primary and post-primary teacher support groups has created classroom resources mapped to the curriculum and the NCCA ICT Framework.
- Content Filtering in Schools
- Visit Webwise to learn about content filtering. While the Schools Broadband Programme (SBP), managed by the PDST Technology in Education, offers all Irish schools content filtered broadband, increasingly, smartphones and other Internet-enabled personal devices are becoming the norm for pupils. Children are able to go online in a wide variety of ways e.g. their games console, their laptop, their phone. While the “computers in their pockets” have great teaching and learning value they will not be part of the school’s network and so will not be subject to the SBP content filtering. Educating them on the safe, ethical and responsible use of the Internet is the way to prepare them for an always-on “unfiltered” online life.
The school should combine all three of the above strategies rather than over reliance on one in order to help pupils become safe and responsible Internet users and to help them become digitally literate.