UK children have learned to be cautious online, but there is little evidence that their digital skills and literacies are increasing over time.
That is according to the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) – a group of more than 200 organisations drawn from across government, industry, law, academia and charities that work in partnership to help keep children safe online.
In its 2017 literature review, UKCCIS identifies and synthesises findings and insights across multiple studies relevant to children’s internet use, risks and safety in the UK.
This year’s review identifies that the role of schools is important in teaching critical digital literacy to students, as well as in guiding and informing parents regarding children’s internet use at home.
However, it has found that there are ‘challenges in ensuring teachers are sufficiently trained and up to date in their knowledge’, in promoting critical understanding rather than restrictive approaches to safety, as well as in tasking schools with guiding students and parents in their use of the internet at home.
Only 54 per cent of secondary school teachers felt that the staff had received adequate e-safety training and, although teachers felt confident in advising students on e-safety, this did not extend to the safe use of social networking sites.
According to UKCCIS, these findings are especially worrying because 91 per cent of secondary school teachers and 52 per cent of primary school teachers report that pupils at their school have experienced cyberbullying, with social networking sites being the most common platform.
Rob Jephcote, Online Safety Expert, says: “Children have never been at more risk online than they are now and schools have a crucial role in helping them keep safe.”
“It is so important that teachers have the confidence and technological understanding for helping children develop their digital skills. National Online Safety courses have been designed by experts for schools looking to upskill key staff members in all matters relating to online safety.”