BIK bulletin: Focus on Back2School with BIK

The seventh edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin has now been published with a focus is on a ‘better internet for schools', with a special Back2School edition to coincide with the start of a new academic year.
 
For teachers, parents and pupils, the start of the new school year can bring a mixture of anticipation, anxieties and, for some, fear. Children worry about the dynamics of a new friendship group, a new teacher or school, teachers struggle to understand the latest requirements and demands that have been placed on them, and parents desperate to have happy children will often ensure that they are equipped with the very latest technology.
 
More than ever, when dealing with online safety issues we all need to be working in partnership. Pupils, parents and teachers all need to engage in an ongoing, meaningful dialogue and young people need to feel that they are in an environment where they will receive appropriate support and advice if something goes wrong. As soon as we begin to talk about ‘online' the boundaries can be blurred: Who is responsible? When does the school take over from parents, and vice-versa?
 
The good news is, you are not alone and there are a variety of tools and resources to help schools and professionals, and the wider school community, to navigate online safety challenges effectively. In this edition of the BIK bulletin, you'll find a range of useful content and articles to help you to establish a ‘better internet approach' in your school or learning environment.
 
The start of a new school year provides a perfect opportunity to review the readiness of the school to deal with online safety issues, and tools such as the eSafety Label and 360 degree safe can help. On completion of a self-assessment process, schools will receive a personalised action plan which will enable them to further develop their level of eSafety practice. They can also see where their school stands compared to other schools.
 
Beyond these tools, there are a range of other resources which can help you. We've outlined a few below…
 
For starters, as part of our own Back2School campaign, we've gathered together a whole host of resources for promoting online safety in the classroom from across the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) in our resource Tour of Europe. Many of our SICs have highlighted a particularly pertinent resource which you may wish to use with pupils to raise awareness of how to stay safe and responsible online, covering a myriad of issues from cyberbullying to sexting, and from digital media literacy to online extremism.
 
Safer Internet Centres often provide dedicated Back2School campaigns also, such as a collection of actions and activities in the Netherlands to encourage media literacy, and top tips for parents as children head back to school from the UK Safer Internet Centre. Find your country-based Safer Internet Centre and explore their services and resources further here.
 
Many other organisations also provide Back2School campaigns with a variety of useful resources which can be adapted for local use. Examples include:
  • Common Sense Media, although having its roots in the US, provides Your ultimate guide for back to school with useful hints and tips for teachers and parents the world over. It offers practical advice on how to avoid the season's buying frenzy, recommendations for useful educational tools, and tips on helping your teen navigate the social media landscape. It also poses questions such as ‘What can schools do to prevent cyberbullying?' and ‘What are the rules about using mobile phones in schools?'.
     
  • FOSI (the Family Online Safety Institute) has created a resource as part of its Good Digital Parenting (GDP) guide covering topics such as understanding student data privacy, a digital reputation checklist, tips on raising good digital citizens, a tech education guide and an educational apps guide.
     
  • Internet Matters hosts a Back2School campaign providing a downloadable guide to help users ‘start the school year safe online'. It also provides some handy guides to encourage students to set app privacy settings on Instagram, Snapchat and WhatsApp as part of the new term preparation.
     
  • Through its Back2School campaign, NetSmartz, the interactive, educational programme of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC), encourages us to make sure kids know the ABCs of digital citizenship this year.
More generally, the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) portal is a great resource to support you in your online safety teaching and awareness raising, all year round. The traditional media, newspapers and TV are littered with references to online safety stories. These can provide an excellent opportunity for parents and teachers to engage with young people in a meaningful dialogue about how to stay safe online, and to discuss some of the challenges and dangers. The BIK portal showcases many of the latest stories and research, and can provide a good source of information to stimulate discussion and debate. Presumably if you're reading this, you've already subscribed to the quarterly Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin, providing a roundup of the latest news, but why not encourage colleagues and contacts to subscribe too.
 
In addition to the Tour of Europe outlined above, the BIK resource gallery contains almost 500 resources in a range of languages from across the Insafe network covering a wide variety of online safety issues, often with links to other useful content. Rather than working through the' noise' of a general internet search for resources, you can be assured that resources found here have been created by experts in the field, often with input from youth panellists to ensure that they are fit for purpose and reflect the real issues young people are faced with online today.
 
Part of the online safety challenge is awareness. Teachers and parents should be aware of what young people are actually doing when they go online. Which apps and platforms are they using? Are there any risks to be aware of? Again, the BIK portal can help with its Guide to online services which provides information about the latest apps being used, along with links to safety and privacy information.
 
And finally, young people need to recognise that they also have a role to play: they need to be responsible users of technology and look out for their peers online, seeking help and support on their behalf when necessary. A great way to get young people involved is through taking part in the annual Safer Internet Day (SID) campaign. The next Safer Internet Day will take place on Tuesday, 7 February 2017 with celebrations taking place right across the globe. The theme for the day is ‘Be the change: Unite for a better internet', so why not make this a focus of class-based discussions? Start the conversation now and plan an action for SID to encourage young people themselves to be part of a change now to build a better internet for their future. Find out more at www.saferinternetday.org.
 
We hope you find this edition of the BIK bulletin useful, and wish you and your students a great, safe and successful school year!
 

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