As the Secretary of State for Digital urges schools to do more to protect children online, is it time for an alternative approach?
Matt Hancock, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), has appealed to schools to do more to protect children from online bullying. He pinpointed that while bullying at school is abhorrent, if a child has access to social media, the bullying can spill over into the digital world. Schools, as well as parents and digital platforms, have a role to play, where they can, in ensuring children’s safety.
At Opogo, this is something we are incredibly concerned about too. We acknowledge the measures schools are already taking to keep children safe online. From our point of view, we’re trying to help them.
Phones on school grounds
Earlier this month, the French Parliament passed a law banning mobile phones on school grounds starting this September. It was part of Emmanuel Macron’s manifesto when standing for the post of President.
Matt Hancock stopped short of recommending a similar law for the UK, but he said he supported schools that banned their pupils from bringing their phones to school. Many schools in the UK have already outlawed the use of phones. Matt Hancock recommended that more schools follow that lead.
Studies show that even aside from the problems associated with online bullying, phones cause distractions and lower productivity, even if they’re sitting on a desk. When you add in the potential for children to bully each other using their phones and social media, there is certainly an argument for taking phones out of schools altogether.
Schools are already combatting online bullying
Of course, schools are already taking significant steps to combat online bullying amongst their pupils.
Children from infant school upwards are taught about the dangers of the internet. They are encouraged to talk about online safety at a very early age.
Schools are working with the NSPCC to encourage children to stay safe online. The charity provides training sessions, teaching resources and more to help.
Schools’ safeguarding policies have been adapted to take account of online influences. Making sure schools are using these policies correctly is enforced by OFSTED at their inspections.
However, there’s an argument that in this case, schools are having to pick up the slack because parents aren’t doing enough to keep their children safe online.
A 2015 study by AVG Technologies found that:
84% of parents believe teachers are primarily responsible for educating children about online risks.
However, 89% of parents never talk to their children’s teachers about online safety.
What else can be done?
At Opogo, we see the dangers posed by online bullying, but we also know the burden that already overloaded teachers are carrying. If parents have shifted the responsibility for telling their children about the dangers posed in the digital world over to teachers, maybe we can help?
A core offering of Opogo is the stand-out social experience. We engage each of our user groups with relevant and bespoke content that users will want to engage with, from classroom behaviour management, STEM advice to practical career development.
Our Opogo community comprises of expert speakers sharing their knowledge through rich content both online and in the app as well as running weekly development workshops in person.
We encourage sharing ideas across all aspects of the teaching profession, especially relating to protecting children from online bullying. If there are better ways to do things, you can be sure teachers discover them with Opogo.
To find out more about Opogo visit our website or download the Opogo app on your mobile.