By Mike Glanville, Director of Safeguarding Services at MyConcern.
As a former police officer with more than 35 years of high-level safeguarding experience, Director of Safeguarding Services, Mike Glanville, explains how schools can leverage technology to reduce pressures on safeguarding leads and improve outcomes by identifying and addressing concerns at the earliest possible opportunity.
Online safety is not just important, it is absolutely vital for protecting children and young people. We all want them to be able to use every opportunity that comes with having the world at their fingertips, building on knowledge, broadening their world and increasing their understanding of different thoughts, beliefs, places and ideas. But we also know the online world has made it all too easy for predators, bullies, or even people who are just plain bored and think something will be funny, to target children and young people and expose them to things that they simply aren’t yet equipped to handle mentally or emotionally.
As a society we have a responsibility to do everything we possibly can to keep children and young people safe.
Social media is becoming more and more a part of daily life and is now a prime method of communication and socialising for young people. Fortunately, the makers behind popular apps are beginning to recognise that they have a part to play in the protection of children and young people and are taking steps to make their apps safer. Tik Tok has been in the news recently because they launched a new ‘Family Safety Mode’ as a response to challenges within their community. New features allow parents to manage how much time their children spend in the app, limit who sends messages to them or turn off direct messaging completely, and allow them to restrict the appearance of potentially inappropriate content.
Other innovations are making online safety within schools more comprehensive. Our safeguarding software MyConcern has teamed up with student online monitoring and management solution Senso.Cloud to create an integration between the two platforms, designed to boost the power behind school safeguarding processes. Schools who use both MyConcern and Senso.Cloud will now be able to easily see a holistic view of a student’s safeguarding profile, which will include Senso.Cloud’s automatically triggered screenshots of concerning online behaviour such as incidents related to bullying, self-harm, eating disorders, pornography, gambling and other concerning issues.
In tandem with making good use of key innovations, it’s important to always keep in mind a number of key principles for online safety. To help, we’ve put together a list of our top tips to share with children, young people, parents, carers, and school staff, enabling them all to make good choices online. These can be downloaded here in poster format or found below.
Top 10 tips for staying safe online:
1. Your online posts are permanent: What you share online will remain accessible forever. Always think before you post!
2. Update your privacy settings: To make sure you are always keeping your personal information safe, take a look at the privacy options your sites have and make the most of the protection they offer.
3. Remember, stranger danger!: Never meet up with anyone who you only know online, and only accept requests from people you know.
4. Beware of viruses: Watch out for links or adverts that may contain malicious and harmful viruses. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is (e.g. you probably haven’t won the latest iPhone for being the millionth visitor!).
5. Social media isn’t real life: Don’t measure your own life against what other people are posting. Remember that everyone will only be posting their best (or imagined) moments. It’s not healthy to make that your benchmark.
6. Respect others online: There’s so much joy to be found online, try not to ruin it for other people. Always think about how others will be affected by what you’re doing or posting.
7. Think before you send: Don’t share with anyone online something that you wouldn’t want them to share with others. It’s far too easy to lose control of something once it has been sent.
8. Worried? Report it: If you see something that worries you, report it to the site AND to a trusted adult. This way you will keep yourself safe, and prevent harm to others.
9. Time’s Up!: The internet provides a great platform for catching up with friends, but staying online for long amounts of time has been found to have a negative impact on other areas of life. Know when to switch off and take a break.
10. Keep your passwords private, always: Don’t share your account passwords with anyone, even your most trusted friends.
To keep children and young people safe from online harm, it is essential that all staff working with them are well-equipped with reliable and up-to-date information. There are a growing number of platforms which children are using, and each comes with its unique risks. It is critical that all staff are updated on these safeguarding issues, such as those presented in this webinar from MyConcern with guest speaker and criminologist Carole Phillips. You can register to watch the recording here.