How to keep children safe whilst accessing technology at school

10-15 year olds experienced at least one type of online bullying in 2020
did not report the bullying to anyone
0 %
who had experienced online bullying, experienced it during school time
0 %

Outcomes are extremely serious. These bullying cases have led to:

  • Feeling of dread. Absenteeism from school and drop in grades
  • Severe anxiety. A need to seek professional counselling.
  • Self-harming. attempted suicide. Suicide. 
A huge amount of this can be avoided. 

The next generation will be exposed to more technology on a daily basis than any previous generation. Social media, online games, websites and apps shape a young person’s online world and can also put them in danger.

Integrating technology into the classroom has become a must as careers are increasingly being led by technology; however, it raises the risk of children accessing harmful digital content.

Here are some tips for keeping your classroom safe while using technology at school.

  1. Assess security versus risk (we can help, see below)
  2. Creating and, most importantly, keeping updated e-safety policies
  3. Filtering harmful and offensive content, no matter a pupil’s location
  4. Supporting parents and carers

Ensure You Have Strong Cyber Security

We all already know and I’m sure are now complying with the  Data Protection Act of 2018; ensuring sensitive data including staff and student records are stored correctly.

However, this Act does not discuss the actual level of protection needed in preventing unwanted hackers from accessing the school’s student and staff files and data.

What do we need to do?

Firewalls and antivirus software are a very basic start as a requirement to protect against cyberattacks. These become very out-of-date quickly as the hackers are constantly becoming aware of the cyber-security tech on the market and finding completely new ways to overcome them.

Schools have seen an increase in cyber-attacks since the pandemic as more students use digital devices as part of their education. There has never been a more important time to ensure that your school’s security systems are up to date.

Students and faculty who bring their own devices to class and connect to the school’s WiFi network increase the risk of cybercriminals. These scenarios necessitate increased security and student policies regarding network usage.

We understand all educational establishments and organisations are different with varying budgets and needs. But surely, above and beyond investments made in buildings and maintenance and other areas, there is a duty of care as to the welfare of the children and students under the protection of the school.

As you can see clearly from the link below, building securing solutions, is as simple as insurance versus risk. The more spent, the more secure. However, there is always a logical minimum acceptance. 

Take a look at the cybersecurity approach Matrix247 can take, at no charge to help share knowledge and protect the school’s children and staff data:

Create E-Safety Policies

In the event of an online incident, all schools should have a secure, unambiguous e-safety policy and procedure in place for all staff to follow. This should adhere to the Government’s guidance for Online Safety in Schools. The recommendations should apply to any device that can connect to another device and transfer data. This includes anything with an internet connection, including smart TV’s and watches.

Because the digital world is constantly changing, it is critical to keep these policies under review and update them as needed. Any policy changes should be communicated to parents, students, staff and carers. 

Setting expectations for how you want your school’s students to behave online is also a successful strategy to create boundaries and rules. A safety agreement for students to sign is an effective way to ensure that your students understand exactly what is expected of them when using technology in school.

The NSPCC has a fantastic self-assessment tool that will assist you in determining whether your current policies are up to date and will recommend any changes that are required. 

Content Filtering

Multi-Network Sims provide numerous advantages, including the ability to receive guaranteed mobile data wherever the student is, as well as filter any harmful, offensive, or triggering content. Schools can use content filtering to:

  • Choose what and when you want your students to access the internet
  • Make granular lists of URLs and keywords to block and allow
  • Add policies that restrict access based on users, groups or even the time of day
  • To improve student productivity, block distracting websites (social media/streaming)
  • Constant automated scanning of billions of URLs to identify and block malicious websites
  • Secure your mobile devices and protect sensitive data
Take a deeper look into how multi-network sims can improve pupil safety during and outside of school time.

Support Parents & Carers

Online bullying occurs not only in schools but also at home. Many parents believe they are ignorant of the digital world and its latest developments; therefore, it is critical for schools to recognise that e-safety at home is more about healthy communication than an in-depth knowledge of technology.

Schools should encourage parents to have open and honest discussions about online safety with their children. This can be done by:

  • Sharing useful resources through emails, letters or social media
  • Keeping them up to date with new policies and procedures
  • Organising events to discuss online safety and bringing in experts to discuss the topic

I hope you find this blog and its links quite informative, however, I would encourage your establishment to reach out to Matrix247 in understanding how we currently support over 130 schools in the UK.

Written by Ste Pritchard, CEO

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