News & Events

October 23 2017

Lessons Learned Seminar

Lessons Learned Seminar at Smarter Interactive Headquarters

We invited teachers and safeguarding specialists from Reading and Twyford to attend our seminar, "Lessons Learned", to equip them with information on how to safeguard children online.

We are dedicated to supporting schools in delivering a high quality of education whilst ensuring the safeguarding of children through the use of IT. That’s why we recently invited representatives from schools local to Reading and Twyford to attend our seminar, "Lessons Learned", to equip them with more information on safeguarding schoolchildren online. So what were the main Lessons Learned during our seminar?

Why is online safety important in 2017?

The landscape of social media is evolving fast and children are becoming exposed to more online platforms than ever before. With growing numbers of parents, and even grandparents, signing up to social applications, children are constantly on the lookout for new platforms to share a social space away from adults. Our guests were interested to learn of the threat from anonymous Q&A platforms, and loose password practices around popular social apps such as Snapchat and Instagram.

Self expression social media sites quickly gained a reputation as an easy target for not only cyberbullying, but also online self-harm. With the looming threat of mental illness affecting children, some anonymous sites became the go-to platform for sharing self-depreciating messages which provide endless bait for online trolls. The impact has been more severe than could have been predicted, with incidents so devastating that victims resorted to sending harmful messages to themselves and ultimately taking their own life.

Our guests were also introduced to Instagram’s child-friendly terms and conditions, which had been translated by Shillings Solicitors into a tone which children could easily understand. They were amazed to learn how much data users give up to Instagram, and what Instagram can do with it. However, despite their shock, guests expressed a concern that children would still accept these terms because they fear missing out when their peers are getting involved. In short: if everyone else is doing it, they’re doing it. Take a look at the Instagram checklist courtesy of the Safer Internet Centre here

Social media sites are no strangers to our guests, and the mere mention of the term "children staring at their devices" sent a telling groan around the room. Ones social media persona is a status symbol among the classroom population. It all seems like harmless fun – so what’s the danger? The danger is that it has led to a high prevalence of children exchanging their passwords with their friends. Consider a child who has on holiday during half term with their parents. Their mobile data doesn’t work abroad, and they don’t want to miss lose their "streak" with friends –essentially their classroom credibility – will be at risk so they get a friend to do it for them whilst they're away. An instilled culture of password sharing among children is feared to lead to a future generation of adults who do not appreciate the importance of safe and secure online activity. This opens them up to the threat of ransomware attacks, online fraud or even cyber bullying – the kind of abuse our guests were keen to avoid. Take a look at the SnapChat checklist courtesy of the Safer Internet Centre here

But despite these threats, online-based learning, communication and collaboration are rapidly evolving from being at the periphery of the educational environment to the very core. We understand teachers are eager to adopt the latest technologies in their classroom, and this does not need to be at the expense of safeguarding. Our guests were particularly keen to learn about the tools available to make this tech-savvy, child-friendly learning space possible.

What’s in place to help?

Thanks to our close relationship with the Safer Internet Centre in Exeter, we were able to provide valuable insight to our guests about the work being done by ICAlert. ICAlert conducts appropriate monitoring and safeguards children online by alerting investigators when nefarious websites are accessed from within schools. They focus on creating a stronger and more scalable network through appropriate web-based and content-based filtering and monitoring. This means that not only are children blocked from harmful websites, they are also protected against stumbling upon dangerous content on seemingly innocent websites. However, the level of appropriate filtering provided means that although children are unable to access certain content, teachers and admin staff can still view the sites they need to fulfil their roles.

At Smarter Interactive, we have a strong relationship with our partners, meaning we are able to offer an extensive range of solutions to support educational staff in safeguarding children online. Our product range includes appropriate filtering tools which facilitate a safe and positive online learning environment and supports the increased use of BYOD policies. This is complemented by our online monitoring tools which detects unacceptable behaviour online and our reporting and visibility tools. These work together to deliver visibility of your network’s activity and reports any inappropriate activity to the appropriate authorities. As well as this, Smarter Interactive offers a range of training packages to aid staff in the safeguarding of children. This comes with exercises and tests to apply your knowledge to realistic scenarios. We call this being #ClickClever.

We regularly hold seminars at our headquarters in Berkshire to keep schools up-to-date on the latest education technology information.  If you be interested in attending an upcoming seminar, simply get in touch here.

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