In 2017, ChildLine counselled 4,541 children about online bullying compared to 2,410 in 2011/12. This significant increase can be attributed to the number of internet-enabled devices available to children and teenagers offering them quick access to social media.
A voluntary code of practice is about to be rolled out to help protect people when they are online and it is hoped social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, will sign up. Levies against social media providers have also been mooted to help protect children from online bullying and trolling.
While the levy is still being discussed by the Government and social media providers, enforcing such a tax might not be as easy and could be viewed as a reactive rather than a proactive, solution. This discussion has further highlighted the rise in the online dangers that lurk on the internet which has made us relook at the alternatives available to counter them to protect our young people.
Home internet access can be protected by your router, firewall and anti-virus software as well as filtering tools that let parents set the parameters of what children can view. Away from home, children still have access to the internet, especially while they are at school. However, while more schools are utilising the internet for teaching purposes, the opportunity for online abuse cannot be ignored, especially if they offer Wi-Fi access for student devices.
swcomms has worked with schools and colleges in conjunction with web and content filtering providers to recommend ways we can all work together to raise awareness and combat the effects of cyber bulling:
- Inform – Discuss the dangers of social media, cyber bullying and posting harmful comments online and that when posts have been online, they could be there for life.
- Invest – Ensure your internet connection is secure, monitored and filtered by next generation firewalls and filtering tools to block social media and blacklisted websites.
- Initiate – Set permissions for eLearning sites and YouTube so they are easy to access by the appropriate students and staff. Modern filtering solutions can block comments and content meant for adults without hindering the student’s ability to learn.
- Identify – Monitor keywords used within browsers and use intelligent filters to block certain words or phrases from being displayed within the school network.
- Investigate – Safeguarding doesn’t stop when they are in front of a computer, students are still vulnerable to bullying, grooming and radicalisation. Ensure the school has a process in place to identify and investigate any issues.
You can read more around the subject of web filtering in our short video here and our blog A lack of web filtering could mean legal action for your school.
If you are a school or college and require a filtering solution, then please do get in touch by calling 0800 054 6789 or email us.