8 tips for teachers for speaking to young people about online safety

Posted on 22 November 2017

Our Education Team give their advice for teachers wanting to deliver online safety messages in their schools.

  1. Acknowledge the positives
    The internet is a great place full of exciting opportunities and things for young people to do. Although there are challenges and risks online it is important to also acknowledge all of the great things that are online. Balancing these negatives with the positive online safety messages can lead to a more engaging session for you and the young people you teach.
  2. Know when (or when not to) use personal anecdotes
    Personal stories can be great for adding context to an online safety session, however you need to make sure that these are appropriate and relevant to the young people you’re talking to and that they won’t steer the conversation off course. Don’t let personal anecdotes and stories distract or take away from the session. 
  3. Be non-judgemental in your approach
    Recognise that young people use the internet differently to adults. Times change and some of the things young people do today may make us cringe sometimes, but the inherent behaviour is the same as it was when we were their age, they are still interacting with friends, playing games and finding things they enjoy doing.
  4. Don’t over-react when young people tell you something
    Remain calm and neutral so that young people see you as someone they can approach for help. You are in the best position to be able to help these young people with their issues if they feel like they can come to you.
  5. Keep it current
    Acknowledge that young people know a lot about devices and apps and allow them to steer the learning and discussions towards the things that they like to do online. Although the devices and apps they use may change, the issues and discussions remain the same, so you can use the latest trends to reinforce key messages about staying safe online.
  6. Create a culture of open dialogue
    Ask questions, be interested, and take their views on board. Young people will feel more involved in discussions if you show that you are interested and engaged in what they are saying.
  7. Give your students the language to use
    Ensure they know who to go to and how to ask for help, focusing on key words they can communicate to an adult, for example: ‘something has happened online and I need help’. Let them know where they can use to get help, whether that be a member of staff, a helpline or another trusted adult.
  8. Use distancing techniques
    Make use of scenarios or ask the young people questions generally rather than specifically about themselves. Young people may not want to talk about things which directly relate them, putting scenarios in third person give them a chance to discuss things that may be happening in their lives without disclosing personal information to the group.

For further guidance:

Book a Childnet education visits

The Childnet Digital Leaders Programme

The Professionals Online Safety Helpline

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