Online Safety & Mental Health: Facts for Teachers

Saturday 10th October marks the return of World Mental Health Day: an annual event designed to raise awareness about mental health issues and support.  

Most teachers are all too aware of how much time children spend online, and how it might affect their studies. However, it’s not so easy for trusted adults to know the specifics of what children do online, or how it can affect them on a deeper level.  

To raise awareness of how different digital activities can affect a child’s mental health, the following facts (sourced from OFCOM’s Media Use and Attitudes Report 2019) are a great starting point. They may seem surprising, but we hope they can inspire you to get talking to young people about online safety.  

50% of all 10-year-olds now use a smartphone. 

For many adults, owning a smartphone has become an absolute must: the same can also be said for a growing number of children

Whilst the smartphone is an incredibly useful and powerful tool, it can also increase the amount of risks young children are vulnerable to.

To get a better idea of how to address these risks, check out our 12 tips for smartphone safety.

Over 40% of 5 – 15 year-olds prefer YouTube to broadcast TV or streaming services. 

Considering the huge number of children and young people who use YouTube, this statistic may not be particularly surprising.

What may come as a shock, though, is how easy it is for children to access inappropriate content on YouTube. As a platform filled with user-generated-content, the website can present far more dangers to children than pre-watershed television, or streaming services with tight parental controls.  

To help students speak up about content that makes them feel uncomfortable, we recommend sharing our YouTube platform guides in school or with parents - they’re detailed, printable, and totally free.

12-15 year olds spend an average of 11 hours, 36 minutes a week playing video games… 

Gaming may not be something that happens in the classroom, but it can certainly have an effect on a child’s mood, motivation, and overall performance in school. 

Gaming addiction is a very real problem, whilst online gaming can present a plethora of risks like grooming and bullying. To truly understand these problems, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest game crazes.

But as busy teachers, we know you might not have the time for a spot of gaming yourself… that’s why we’ve put in the work (or play) for you. Check out our complete collection of gaming guides here.

…and 71% of them also have at least one social media account. 

As adults, we are already aware of the impact social media can have on our wellbeing: the effects are even more intense for teenagers. The biggest risks for children at this age include stress from social pressures, screen addiction, and issues of self-image. 

If you are concerned about young people in your class, but unsure of what the problem may be, the best thing you can do is learn to spot the signs and encourage an open dialogue around the negatives of social media. 

To help you get started, we’ve put together a selection of guides for you to share with your class – download them for free here.

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