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C4L – Confidence 4 Life

Media Literacy and E-Safety

Using the internet has become a way of life in today’s modern world. It is almost impossible to avoid – almost everything from internet shopping and lifestyle habits to online socialising and studying has been integrated into everyday life. That’s why instilling Media Literacy and E-Safety awareness into students now is vital to enable them to navigate the wonders of the internet and avoid the pitfalls wherever possible.

Please click on the buttons below for helpful tips, information and links on Media Literacy and E-Safety…

E-Safety - Top Tips

  • Don’t publish your name;
  • Never tell a stranger your name;
  • Keep your address a secret;
  • Don’t say where you go to school;
  • Only give your phone numbers to people you know;
  • Don’t tell anyone anything that you don’t want the world to know.
  • Passwords are like secrets.  Do not share them with anyone but your parents;
  • Always check the privacy settings when creating a profile on networking sites like myspace, bebo, twitter or facebook. Check them regularly because they change!
  • Get an adult to help you with your privacy settings.
  • Anything you post you have published to the whole world.  Think!
  • Before posting or forwarding images, reflect upon the feelings of the person or people in the photo;
  • Avoid image sharing mobile apps which can distribute images to the wrong people, very quickly;
  • If anyone asks you to pose say NO.

Friends and Followers

  • Not everyone is who they say;
  • Don’t add anyone and everyone.  Be sure that you know who the person is;
  • Real friends are those who’ve shown they care about you.  Trust and respect are essential ingredients of friendship.
Meeting people
  • Never arrange to meet a stranger. Tell someone if anyone asks to meet up;
  • Some Web-users have very bad intentions and will use any trick to get you to meet with them.
Anti-social networking
  • If, when chatting, you feel uneasy or even threatened, sign off!
  • Tell your parents or teacher about any worrying experiences, not just your friends;
  • Block anyone who is upsetting you;
  • Never post a comment that you would be embarrassed or ashamed for a parent or teacher to read, or that would be upsetting to others.
Report concerns

Parents and teachers know what to do and will act on your behalf.  Friends care about you but you must report your concerns to an adult;

  • Do not discuss problems with someone you’ve just met online, or on chat rooms;
  • Look out for each other!
Don’t believe everything you read
  • Don’t fall for it – things aren’t always what they seem!
  • Everyone exaggerates – you probably do it as well!
  • Some people might tell lies just to get to you.

If ANYONE you meet online is making you, or a friend, feel uncomfortable and pressurising you to do things you don’t want to, such as on a webcam or asking for pictures, REPORT IT!  You can also make a report to CEOP here or anywhere you see the ‘ClickCEOP Button’.

Talk to ChildLine – ChildLine is a free, confidential 24/7 helpline for children and young people. Whatever your worry they’ll provide practical advice and support. You can contact them at or phone them for free on 0800 11 11.

A classification of online opportunities and risks for children and young people

(Livingstone, S and Haddon, L (2009) EU Kids Online: Final report. LSE, London: EU Kids Online. (EC Safer Internet Plus Programme Deliverable D6.5)

At first sight, the list of risks can seem quite daunting, but closer examination reveals that many of the risks cited are concerns that have existed for generations. For example tracking is mentioned and of course this is a concern, we also talk about stalking which is something that happens in the off-line world as well. Unfortunately, pornographic and harmful sexual content has always existed; the internet simply provides an easier means of accessing this material as the perceived anonymity it affords mean that children and young people are much more likely to take risks and attempt to access such material believing that they will never be discovered. Despite the fact that many of these risks have always existed, the internet brings with it a couple of issues which mean that children and young people can be particularly vulnerable.

  • Children and young people tend to use the internet (at least initially) in places where they feel very safe. This is because we tell them that they are safe and want them to feel that way. Home and school are places that we need children to feel safe and secure in and staff and parents work hard to ensure that this is the case. However, in doing so, we encourage children to approach their use of the internet with a false sense of security. In their eyes, nothing can go wrong – because they are in that safe place. This is highlighted by the comment below:
    “How can we come to any harm when we are sitting at home, nothing really bad can happen.” – Girl 15,
    (From Ofcom – Social Networking: A quantitative and qualitative research report into attitudes, behaviours and use (April 2008)
  • We know from scientific research, that children’s capacity to understand risk develops after adolescence because the parts of the brain that govern risk are not fully functioning until this time. This means that children don’t have the same appreciation of risk as adults – this is actually a good thing in some respects as without this, children and young people would not take the risk to tell their first lie of consequence, or do their first noble thing. Indeed, it is only their inability to appreciate and understand risk that allows them to do those things that we as adults consider to be both incredibly brave and foolish, the things that really characterise adolescence, the series of really dangerous decisions that you have to make to become an adult.

These two factors taken together can form a potentially toxic mix, meaning that some children and young people will take real risks without any thought for future consequences.

It is important to remember at this point that we were all children once, we all did the foolish things, the difference – and it is a crucially important one – is that our foolish activities were not permanently recorded. Consequently, informing children about risk involves:

  • Frequent reinforcement – which means both at home and at school.
  • Providing children with examples – things from their real life that actually mean something to them.

Infusing children with media literacy...

We must infuse children with the media literacy that helps them to understand about the immortality of the information that they put up online. This is vitally important. The way to do this is: NOT to say don’t use this, but to say for example, “look at how this rumour flooded through the network”.

Encourage children and young people to carry out the experiment for themselves. When they have witnessed the speed and diffusion of how something goes through a social network they will be much more likely to think twice about what they post. There are many examples in the media which we can use to initiate discussions with our children – they will have an opinion and are more likely to consider some of the issues if we share some of these stories with them and ask them what they think. (Some examples can be found below.)

Premier League football clubs using social media to vet players
1 in 4 chance of sexts being leaked
Net-A-Porter accidentally leaves photoshopping instructions on photo

How can we best protect children and young people?

The most effective way to keep children and young people safe online is to ensure that they have someone that they trust who they can talk to if something goes wrong.

Education and empowerment are much more powerful tools than blocking, banning and monitoring. We spend a lot of time telling children and young people how important their privacy is and what they must do in order to protect it. We do this for a number of good reasons; one is that there is a small risk that they could be groomed by a predator, but more importantly, because the internet will never forget. It is appropriate then that we sit down with our children and point out that the photo they post when they are 15 or 16 of them half dressed, smoking a cigarette and drinking will indeed come back and haunt them when they are 35 or 36 and they will wish they had never posted it. However, at the same time as telling them this, we also put our children in situations where everything that they do at school and at home is being watched, monitored and processed. The information that is gathered is then used as ammunition for us to tell our children that they have done something wrong – they have been caught.

Children understand that actions speak louder than words – so when we monitor a child for every second that they are online, and then turn around to them and say that privacy is important and they must protect it, they understand that we’re not really serious about this. When we tell them to protect their personal information and not give it out, but also that if they take steps to hide that information from us (e.g. by using a proxy server and so by-passing the school’s “safe” internet connection which will probably be filtered), then they will be in a world of trouble, children and young people then understand that we’re not really serious about this whole not disclosing information business.

We are training children not to value their privacy by relying too heavily on monitoring software and surveillance in schools. If we really want to keep children safe on the internet, we need to start equipping them with the tools to understand when they’re being monitored. Children are infinitely resourceful, monitoring and filtering will not always stop them from accessing what they want to access, but it could stop them from working with us to become better online citizens.

Digital Distraction

Now that many of us are connected to the internet almost 24/7 there is an inevitable risk of digital overload.

In 2015 the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe), published some research which found that managing distractions is a universal challenge for both adults and young people alike:

  •  44% of teens admitted that they do not get enough sleep because of digital devices.
  • 25% of adults admitted that they do not get enough sleep because of digital devices.
  • 40% of teens do not complete homework because of time spent with digital devices.
  • 37% of teens admitted that their devices interfere with normal day to day activities.
  • 30% of adults admitted that their devices interfere with normal day to day activities.

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