Sponsored by Facebook I did some work recently for the EUN where we looked at the role of Social Media in Learning and Education (SMILE). One of the outputs of my contribution to the project was a professional development eLearning course for European Teachers and Head Teachers on the use of Social Media in Schools.
As this part of the course has now finished (and we have gone into the community development phase) I am re-posting a version of the materials here so others can benefit from them.
This is part 5 of 6 - Internet Safety and Responsible Use
Internet Safety and Responsible Use: The Video
Internet Safety and Responsible Use: The Course Notes and Links
1. Internet Safety and Responsible Use
Whenever we talk about Internet Safety we must also talk about Responsible Use. Similarly, when we talk about the safe use of social media we must also talk about the responsible use of social media.
Unfortunately some people still believe that the only way to keep children safe online is to ‘lock and block’ access to parts of the Internet though web filtering. The reality of this is that this doesn’t remove the actual dangers (perceived or otherwise) and it also makes it almost impossible for educators to deliver key Internet Safety and Responsible Use messages.
The fundamental requirement to keeping children and young people safe on-line is to make sure that they have received an appropriate education in how to use tools and services appropriately. They also need to understand the wider issues of privacy and how to report if they experience something they do not feel comfortable with.
The Cloud Learn Research Report from Heppell.net and the Nominet Trust provides a useful insight to UK schools who have started to challenge the culture of ‘locking and blocking’.
2. Understanding Terminology
One important consideration of any aspect of Internet Safety and Responsible Use, including the responsible use of social media, is terminology. If we want to help keep children and young people safe on-line we must all be speaking the same language and this should include an understanding of tools and services that children and young people use.
When exploring tools and services it is important that adults ask what websites children use, but also how they use the website and what the website is used for. Only by understanding the purpose of social media tools will we be able to offer children and young people appropriate advice and support to help them stay safe.
The meaning of a word ‘friend’ is an interesting example of how technology may be changing language over time. A friend to an adult is likely to be someone they trust, someone they are happy to meet for a coffee, someone they are happy to invite to their house etc… Yet a friend to a young person may just be a connection on a social networking space. Establishing a common language is really important.
This YouTube Video illustrates nicely how technology has changed language over time - http://goo.gl/umcQX - its also pretty funny!
Language is also really important when it comes to the term ‘privacy’. Recent research such as the Pew Internet Report suggests that young people are more concerned about privacy than ever before. However, although many young people will tell you they are concerned about their privacy on-line very few young people can actually tell you what privacy is. It's a good example of young people telling you what they want you to hear, rather than actually understanding the meaning of what you are asking.
In Europe we have laws that protect our privacy but the reality of it is lots of people just give their data away. Other people (including our friends on social networks) also give data / information about other people away as well.
We often just don't know what we have signed up for when we 'tick' the small print at the bottom of the terms and conditions of a new Social Media Service. Helping young people understand terms & conditions, privacy and what privacy setting means is an important aspect of keeping young people safe on-line.
4. Digital Footprints
Digital footprints are the digital trail that you leave behind you on the Internet whenever you comment on a blog; share something on a social networking space; or up-load an image or video. Other people can also contribute to your digital footprint by up-loading things about you that are linked to your name or profile. An example of this might be when you appear in a newspaper that is then digitised or a friend ‘tagging’ a photograph of you on Facebook.
The majority of people have got a digital footprint these days (even if they don’t know it yet!) and almost all young people will have a digital footprint that will get bigger as they get older. Digital footprints are not something that we can stop but we need to make sure a young persons digital footprint leaves a good impression. This is particularly important when it comes to employability where increasing employers are looking at the social networking profiles of perspective employees as well as job application forms.
One important emerging trend is that many very young children have got digital footprints. These are footprints that have often been created by their parents. This is backed up by an interesting piece of research on the AVG Blog which found:
- The average age at which a child acquires an online presence courtesy of their parents is at six months, and by the time they are two 81% of children have some kind of ‘digital footprint’.
- A third (33%) of children have had images posted online from birth
- A quarter (23%) of children have even had their pre-birth scans uploaded to the Internet by their parents
- Seven per cent (7%) of babies have even had an email address created for them by their parents
- More than 70% of mothers said they posted baby and toddler images online to share with friends and family
The important consideration here is that we must make sure that parents receive information about responsible behaviour on social networking sites. This has to include education into the potential implications of creating digital footprints for their children.
Resources like the Internet Archive Wayback Machine can be useful in helping young people understand that it is almost impossible to delete anything from the Internet.
Microsoft has also produced a really good Infographic titled ‘What does you online image project about you?’ which provides a great context for a discussion with a class.
5. Social Media Policy
Internet Safety and Responsible Use needs to be included in your Social Media Policy. But even more important than this is acknowledging the Internet and other Digital Technology in your schools Child Protection and Learning & Teaching Policies.
I will look at creating a Social Media Policy in more detail in my next blog post.
6. Social Media on the Curriculum
When trying to include social media in the curriculum it is important to emphasise that Social Media is just another tool that teachers can be use to motivate students and to enhance the teaching process.
One way that we can encourage young people to behave responsibly when using social media is for teachers to model the responsible use of social media tools during their normal classroom practice.
Teachers can put structures in place to help support learners in the use social media which involve modelling behaviour, working jointly with children, developing rules and eventually leading to independent learning (supported by social media tools) that is built around a classroom culture of trust and respect.
There are also a number of resources to help teachers in Europe to deliver key messages around Internet Safety and Responsible Use. The European InSafe Network is a great place to start looking for resources to support you with your teaching.
Some other great resources support and advice have been developed by the Social Media Companies themselves, and include the Microsoft Privacy Centre, Google Family Safety Centre, Facebook Help Centre and the Xbox Live Play Smart, Stay Safe Resource.
Links for you to explore and reflect on:
- Internet Archive Wayback Machine - http://archive.org/web/web
- Once upon a time vintage technologies video - http://goo.gl/umcQX
Resources to help teach Internet Safety and Responsible Use
- Microsoft Privacy Centre - http://goo.gl/o16EU
- What does your on-line image project about you? - http://goo.gl/R9JK
- Google Family Safety Centre - www.google.co.uk/familysafety
- Facebook Help centre - http://goo.gl/zcboF
- Xbox 360 Parent Controls - http://goo.gl/VG5Gx
- Cloud Learn: the end of locking and blocking - www.cloudlearn.net
- Do Children have a Digital Footprint from birth? (AVG) - http://goo.gl/Uh9FE
- Pew Internet and American Life Project - http://www.pewinternet.org