A couple of months ago, we had a visit from Zeeko Education – I was really impressed with the internet safety workshop they gave to the pupils in our school and asked them to write a guest blogpost with some tips for teachers.

Start and keep the conversation going:

Talk to the children in your class as much as possible about how important it is to stay safe when they are online. It is never too early to start this conversation. The internet is undoubtedly a fantastic resource, but kids do need to be aware that they should be conscious of who they are interacting with and what they are sharing when they are online. If children are used to hearing and participating in regular conversations about the internet at school and at home, then they will certainly be better equipped to stay safe when they are online.

Encourage and promote a balanced approach to the use of technology:

Managing something like the amount of time that children spend on screens can be a challenge. Encourage them to have a healthy balance in their use of technology and the time they spend online. Remind them, through example, of the importance of face to face interaction with their classmates, family and friends. Encourage parents to promote regular family activities that don’t involve a screen! Setting boundaries early on about the amount of time that they can spend using technology is a good first step in promoting balance.

No safety setting is a substitute for education:

As we regularly say at Zeeko while safety settings on digital devices, are a very necessary and important step where keeping children safe is concerned, they are never 100% secure. The best way children can stay safe is by having the knowledge through education, to make smart choices when they are online. To be conscious of what they are sharing and with who. When we visit schools throughout the country to talk about staying safe online we reinforce the importance of knowing what to do if something unpleasant happens when they are online. Linking in with an adult they trust, usually a parent to talk about what they have encountered online is crucial. With teens the approach is slightly different. We encourage them to remember the importance of behaving the same way they do when they are online as they do when they are offline. In other words, exercising the same degree of caution that they would in the real world as they do in the virtual online world.

Consider a digital detox:

Talk to the children in your class about trying a digital detox. This involves all the family ‘unplugging’ from their devices for a period of time each day or for an entire day. Other tasks will undoubtedly be completed in the time spent off technology.

The Stop Block Tell Rule: 

It can be genuinely distressing for young children in particular to encounter something age inappropriate or witness others being treated badly when they are online. Talk to your child about the importance of using the Stop, Block, Tell Rule if they do encounter something that upsets them. Stop what they are doing, block the person and/or conversation that has upset them, and finally tell a trusted adult what they have experienced. Talking about what has upset them will definitely make it less frightening. Let the children in your class know that it is ok for them to talk about what they are experiencing when they are online. Having regular open conversations about the internet is a great foundation for children to learn that the digital world can be a great experience, but that they need to remember to stay safe.

Online Etiquette: 

Often the excitement of messaging, gaming, video and photo sharing can lead to children of a range of ages, not being as cautious as they would usually be when they are offline. Talk with the children in your class about the importance of treating people the same when they are online as they would when they are not. Also remind them of the T-Shirt Rule, which is a great way of reinforcing the fact that what is shared online cannot be easily deleted or removed – don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be happy to wear on the front of a t-shirt! This certainly makes children and adults think twice about what they post online.

Communication and education are the keys to helping keep kids safe online!

Written by: Michelle Scanlan, Communications Manager at Zeeko

About Zeeko:

Based at NovaUCD Zeeko are lead researchers in internet safety for children in Ireland. We provide also interactive workshops to primary and secondary schools nationwide. Log onto our website to find out more. www.zeeko.ie

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for tips and advice on keeping kids safe online!

If you would like Zeeko to visit your school to deliver one of our interactive workshops to children, teachers and parents email clodagh@zeeko.ie .