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Call It Out: 5 key takeaways from our “Staying Safe Online” webinar

As part of our recently launched anti-trolling campaign Call It Out, our latest webinar, Call It Out: Staying Safe Online, explored a number of themes relating to the ways we can tackle bullying through safer and more responsible use of online technology. 

The discussion is a timely one, following the marking of Safer Internet Day on 8 February, as well as the announcement that the government is launching a consultation into safeguarding to keep children safe within education.  

Host James Lane (Sector Manager for Digital, Creative and Design) was joined by our Sector Manager for Education and Childcare, Janet King, as well as our Information Security Manager, Richard Grant, who shared their expertise on online safety from different viewpoints – from safeguarding, through to technological solutions. 

Here, we recap five of the key takeaways from the discussion.

1. It’s all about balance and being informed

Two key themes recurred throughout our webinar – the importance of ensuring children and young people are as informed as they can possibly be, as well as the importance of achieving balance.  

Janet explained: “It’s all about knowing what’s okay and what’s not okay, whilst having that balance of enjoying and embracing the digital world and all the advancement that this can bring. 

“We need recognition of when things are going wrong and how to spot these signs from a child safeguarding perspective. We also need children and young people to be able to recognise these dangers themselves, and to know what to do when they occur.” 

Richard agreed, stating there is definitely a balance to strike when it comes to not being afraid of the “incredible power of having access to the internet and the digital world.” 

Janet also went on to explain how blended learning has played a significant role in formalising the internet as somewhere where learning takes place – not just to be used as a space for socialising or gaming. This may have encouraged children and young people to think about the role the internet plays in our daily lives in different settings, as well as giving educators a tangible reason to thread online dangers throughout the curriculum, helping to further inform learners.

2. How to spot the signs

Our speakers also discussed the key things – or the “red flags” – to look out for in children and young people that may suggest a negative experience is occurring online. 

“Communication and observation are key to most of this,” says Janet. “From a teacher’s perspective, recognising when things are not okay is really all about tuning into each child or young person that you’re working with.” 

These red flags can vary hugely depending on the individual, but important things to look out for can include changes to a child’s demeanour, their approach to learning, their friendship groups, their attendance, and their regular behaviours. They may withdraw or become aggressive – it’s all about knowing what conversations you can have, and about when is appropriate to have them. 

Our Call It Out campaign is bringing together industry leaders across the education, business and not-for-profit sectors, to identify ways in which we can come together and tackle this growing issue of toxic behaviours online. One of our campaign partners, the Anti-Bullying Alliance, provide further guidance on signs that a child is being bullied – and we’re also releasing an article on this next month. 

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