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Children are asking for help to stay safe online
The online world is like the Wild West without a sheriff; teachers and parents need to step into the breach, says Jack Talman, Head of PSHE and ESafety Of cer at Hampton School, Middlesex
Surveys and studies continue to warn us of the dangers of social media for our children. When we read that young people in the
UK spend more time online than children from any other developed nation and are also the unhappiest children in the developed world, it is hard not to draw the conclusion that the two are connected. However,
the online world is now undeniably a  xture in our children’s worlds and will continue to be so. They are constantly offered the possibility
of being on line for entertainment, information and communication;
it is a key factor in their social lives, offering endless connectivity to friends and acquaintances across
the globe. Fighting against this omnipresent force and bemoaning the current state of affairs serves little purpose, however. We need to catch up with our children’s reality because, as tech-savvy as they might be, they are still young people in need of guidance and support in this area of life as much if not more than any other.
I have been a Head of Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) for the past seven years. Over
this time, I have witnessed how e-safety in schools has evolved from the occasional lesson on online stranger-danger and cyber-bullying to being a critical element of our PSHE programme. Indeed, just as the online world now permeates every element of children’s lives, it must also permeate all elements of our pastoral care.
At Hampton we have learnt valuable lessons from our pupils in how to develop our e-safety guidance. A recent initiative has been to appoint pupils as ‘Digital Ambassadors’ from each year group. These Ambassadors discuss the latest teen trends with their peers and advise us (their teachers) on the digital issues causing most concern. A recurrent
theme is that young people want and need help in dealing with online issues. Our younger boys requested support on how to use the internet safely because they know there are dangers but don’t understand how to avoid them. Another pupil-led initiative saw a group of our 13 and 14 year-olds make a video asking their parents to show them how to use social media safely. Our Sixth Formers have also expressed concern
about the physical effects of their online usage. They are worried about the impact of constant online interaction with their peers and how social media affects mental health through changes in dopamine and serotonin. All these issues are part of what we recognise as ‘digital wellbeing’, which has now become a signi cant part of our PSHE provision.
All young people thrive and do best when they have clear boundaries and rules. Of course they like to push these boundaries and break these rules, but having them there lets them know that someone is looking out for them. Guidance
on safe internet usage, and having clear parameters helps them to know what they should be doing, even if they don’t always do it. The online world can sometimes feel something like the Wild West, where anything goes and there is no sheriff keeping the town safe. If parents and teachers don’t specify for children the rights and wrongs when it comes to e-safety, then inevitably our children will feel rudderless in a world that is dif cult to resist - and that is when the problems arise.
As adults, tackling e-safety is not an easy task because we often know less about the online world than
the young people themselves, and trying to pretend otherwise will only serve to undermine our credibility
in their eyes. We cannot state that anyone they meet online is bound to be a predatory paedophile,
or that if they send a sext it will inevitably go viral and they will
end up before the courts: they know from their own experience that this is simply not true. To the majority of young people, and many
adults, the online world is one of wonder and opportunity, and if we simply demonise it, we alienate the teenagers whom we are trying to help.
Instead, we need to help young people make the most of this emerging world while pointing out the potential dangers and helping
them navigate these in safety.
Being non-judgemental and open
to discussion is key to instilling
good online practice. For example,
a young person’s online identity is
of the greatest importance to them. Through communication we can help them understand that they are leaving a ‘digital footprint’ and help them to consider how online posts, and images shared, may be perceived by their peers, as well as universities and employers, in the future.
Technology and the online world continue to evolve at a rapid pace. As adults, this can make us feel disorientated and unsure and we are not alone in this: our young digital natives are disorientated too. We need to work with them to continually develop and improve a programme of education, which will help them thrive safely in this amazing new world.
Hampton School will host a digital safety conference for teachers on 9 June 2017. Places on ‘Digital Wellbeing, Protecting Pupils Online’ can be booked via:
Jolie Brise sets sail for Canada
The Dauntsey’s School, Wiltshire, world-famous pilot cutter,
the Jolie Brise, kicked off its transatlantic race by participating in the Royal Greenwich Regatta. She joined an international  eet of tall ships who took over the banks of the River Thames at Greenwich and the Royal Arsenal Riverside in Woolwich for what
is the  rst event of the Rendez Vous 2017 Tall Ships Regatta.
A group of Fourth Form pupils from Dauntsey’s took part in
the festivities and put Jolie Brise through her paces during the four-day Regatta which attracted millions of visitors (see picture courtesy Rick Tomlinson).
Jolie Brise now faces the  rst race of the 7,000 nautical mile race which takes in Portugal, Bermuda and Boston, before reaching Quebec in Canada on 18 July.
Jolie Brise will then race back across the Atlantic to arrive at Le Havre, France in September. The race will be the third Atlantic crossing for Jolie Brise where she will be sailed by a series of crews made up of existing and former Dauntsey’s pupils, parents and guests. Her adventure coincides with being voted the “Gstaad Yacht Club Centenarian of the Year” in Classic Boat Magazine’s annual Awards.
You can follow Jolie Brise on her journey using this  eet tracker
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