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Top Ten Tips on how schools can keep students safe online

Written by SRM

9th February 2015

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by Michelle Ali

1) Have a defined protocol to report and resolve incidents that have occurred

With more and more students being more active on the internet, naturally the number of incidents that occur online have increased – with cyber bullying being the most common. Therefore just as incidents in real life, it is important that students understand the options available to them in order to resolve the issues.
It is equally as important for staff to have a protocol to follow when dealing with online incidents. This will ensure that they resolve these issues in an appropriate and responsible manner.

2) Keep up with the technology usage trends to help understand issues that may arise
The online interests of children change frequently. It is important for staff to keep up with current interests and understand them so they can be confident when dealing with issues that may arise.
It would also allow staff to give students appropriate advice and support so that similar incidences don’t occur.

3) Enforce some internal protocols
A lot can be done internally to increase the safety of children online. Enforcing rules within the school that condemn cyberbullying and malicious practices online can help sustain the safety of the students. This can be done by making malicious acts online punishable. By applying disciplinary consequences to online activity, it reduces the chances of students victimising other students. Furthermore, it encourages students to think more about their actions online.

4) Provide lessons on social media etiquette
Students spend a lot of time on social media as it plays quite a significant role in their lives. This is why it is in the best interest for students to act in a manner that doesn’t affect other students negatively. Furthermore, it is also in the best interest of their “online reputation” to act appropriately when using social media as it may affect their employment in the future.

5) Provide lessons on the importance of security and how to stay secure
It is extremely important for students to be safe and aware when using the internet. By providing lessons on things to look out for, how to stay safe and how to stay out of trouble, it will reduces the chances of them being caught off guard by some internet trolls.

6) Set some internet usage rules
Internet usage rules will help the students understand what is expected from them when using the internet. For example having an official rule stating that any member of the school is not allowed to leave bad comments on social media. The rules should encourage students to be ethical online users and ensure their safety.

7) Use controls and filters within the school network
Web traffic and content filtering allows you to prevent access to harmful and malicious content and websites, while still providing your students, teachers and other school staff access to good, appropriate and pertinent information. Unfettered internet access can lead to inappropriate, malicious or harmful content. This can be in the form of malicious, dangerous or pornographic websites or it can be through the creation of harmful content, through social media, blog, video uploads or other web postings.

8) Keep your passwords strong and secure
Encourage students to keep their passwords secure. The longer that their password is, the harder it is to guess. So they should make sure their passwords are long to help keep their information safe. Adding numbers, symbols and mixed-case letters makes it harder for snoops or others to guess or crack their password. Students should not use ‘123456’ or ‘password’ and avoid using publicly available information like their phone number in their passwords. It’s not very original and it isn’t very safe!

9) Don’t post any personal information
Personal information includes information such as (but not limited to) their home addresses, phone numbers, school name etc. It is any information about yourself. When you post something on the internet, there is a strong possibility that anyone can get a hold of it and use it however they wish e.g. Identity theft. To ensure safety, avoid posting such information on social media or anywhere on the internet.

10) Keep privacy settings as high as possible
By encouraging students to keep their privacy setting as high as possible, as well as practicing only adding people they know to their social media accounts, should increase their safety whilst online. It means that the only people that have access to their personal information are trusted individuals. This reduces the chances of them being attacked by internet trolls or getting harassed by fake accounts.

Michelle is currently studying Computer Science at Newcastle University, and is spending time with SRM on a work experience basis.