Our Man in Westminster - Internet Safety at Goat Lees School

The internet is not only one of the greatest inventions of the modern age, allowing us all access to unlimited information, entertainment and pictures of cats, but also one of its greatest dangers in the wrong hands. The trick, especially for children growing up in an online world, is to give them the tools to protect themselves.

This is why I was really pleased to see the efforts being made at Goat Lees School to give their children these tools, through a presentation by Google called “Internet Legends”. Aimed at 7-11 year-olds, the special assembly brings together simple but practical advice. The average age for owning your first smart phone is now eight, so this advice to the children at Goat Lees, and their guests from the neighbouring Phoenix School, was very timely.

There are four key elements. Think before you share, and don’t put anything online that you don’t want the whole world to see. Protect your stuff, by making sure that you use a strong password, and always log out of devices when you have finished with them. Check it’s for real, recognising online scams, and realising that if something looks too good to be true, it’s not true. Finally, respect each other, which means treating other people online the way you would treat them in any other circumstances.

This advice applies to many adults as much as it does to young children, who in technical terms are likely to be well ahead of their parents in knowing how to move around the online world. But all the parental advice in the world is in the end less useful than having good habits inculcated at an early age. The enjoyable way the Google team put their message across meant that it hit home, and would be a benefit to any school.

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