The virtual world is changing the way we teach. Online education should mean less opportunities for bullying and clearer communication with the teacher. In this virtual world, is this how digital learning is impacting our children?
There can be no argument over how important it is that we start teaching our children the rules of the online workspace. School authorities are setting up their own individual systems all over the UK, leading to a mass rollout of school-focused software systems. With all of this moving at a fast pace to try and bridge the digital skills gap in the workforce, how safe are children and vulnerable adults as we push them along this path?
Is an Online Education Safer For Children
In the wake of a global virus, children everywhere are used to the idea of a blended or virtual learning system. By combining face to face teaching with virtual classroom spaces, schools can save on overheads by remaining closed for parts of the week. This budget save could be used to improve school facilities, upgrade digital equipment, and give your child a fuller educational experience.
Even as online education improves school systems and boosts our children’s chances at a happy life, Safeguarding Jobs have become twice as difficult. Teachers have at least one semester of this training during their course. Further training can help them to identify words or phrases which might indicate further investigation. The aim of safeguarding is to spot these throwaway comments, the changes in behaviour, or the lack of regular food and drinks as warning signs that something deeper might be going on at home.
When your children are not in the classroom and you only see them for a few hours a week over Zoom, how do you take the same measures to ensure your charges are safe? We all know that online education is changing how we give lessons, but is digital learning having a positive or negative impact on safeguarding in the academic system?
Identifying Safety Concerns
What is it which may threaten a vulnerable student while they are receiving virtual lessons? The UK government outlines a few in their safeguarding guidance for schools running online lessons. Keep in mind that safeguarding does not just apply to children. Any vulnerable adult in a temporary contact situation could also need your protection. As an educator or support giver, it is your duty to make sure they receive the best care possible. If you suspect something is going on at home, you should report it to the correct authorities as per the government website.
Safety concerns might include:
- Children working online may face exposure to harmful or upsetting web content.
- Exploitation, particularly in exchange of digital products for real cash.
- Radicalisation, extremism, and other treacherous conditions.
- Online hoaxes and legends.
- Children are at the same risk of bullying online as they are in real time. Look out for classmates exchanging messages, giggling, or excluding/picking on certain members of the group.
- Fake news – children cannot always identify a trusted source from a satirical one.
There are countless horrific atrocities that our children do not have the emotional intelligence to face, and should not have to face at such a young age. It is our job as guardians to provide that safe space, shielded from these things. Although the internet can help children to learn about the wonders of the world, it also exposes them to some of the dangers, too. In school situations, teachers are trained to mitigate these problems and keep their students safe while online. Here are some tips for how to do that.
Tips for Managing Safeguarding During Online Lessons
How do you make sure your charges are safe during virtual sessions? Follow these tips.
1 – Update your network security
Don’t scrimp on the budget of personal details stored regarding grades, child report cards, or any other information. Keep it secure by routinely updating systems and having a set strategy in place should a data breach happen.
2 – Encourage them to Speak Up
Try to create an atmosphere where your children feel confident to call out inappropriate adult behaviour if they see it. Teach them about consent and show them how to express that they are uncomfortable.
3 – Get Parents Involved
Urge parents to help you point out the dangers of unsupervised online time. The NSPCC have some excellent advice for parents looking to secure their children’s safety online. If parents keep an eye on children’s internet time, it makes it far harder for them to see anything they shouldn’t.
4 – Minimise Social Media Accounts
Keeping children off the worst social media sites can help protect them from some of the issues they may otherwise run into. Set filters on the social media accounts that they do have to minimise bad content. As a teacher, you can only monitor the amount of social media time they have during video classes. Keep in close contact with parents if you see or hear any rumours of breaking the rules.
Keeping children safe online until they know how to protect themselves is a full time job. Digital technology is everywhere. All we can do is go with the times and hope we understand more than they do.