Schools have the opportunity to transform education and help pupils fulfil their potential and raise standards with ICT. But it’s also important that pupils learn how to be safe when they are using these new technologies, particularly technologies such as social networking sites, which are becoming an essential aspect of productive and creative social learning.
Schools are finding that a blocking and banning approach, which merely limits exposure to risk, may no longer be a sustainable approach. Children will experiment online and while their confidence and enthusiasm for using new technologies may be high, their understanding of the opportunities and risks may be low, as will their ability to respond to any issues they encounter. Schools need to focus on a model of empowerment; equipping children with the skills and knowledge they need to use technology safely and responsibly, and managing the risks, wherever and whenever they go online; to promote safe and responsible behaviours in using technology both at school and in the home and beyond.
“Children and young people need to be empowered to keep themselves safe – this isn’t just about a top-down approach. Children will be children – pushing boundaries and taking risks. At a public swimming pool we have gates, put up signs, have lifeguards and shallow ends, but we also teach children how to swim.”
Professor Tanya Byron, BSc., MSc., PsychD., FRSA - Safer children in a digital world: The report of the Byron Review
What risks do we need to guard against?
The Byron Review classified the risks as relating to content, contact and conduct. The risk is often determined by behaviours rather than the technologies themselves.