Komorebi Post:This week schools across the country have been looking at the importance of staying safe online. The move comes in light of a game called the “Momo challenge,” where children take part in challenges which have dangerous consequences, and videos on YouTube, which are masked as child-friendly but which feature violence which children have had easy access to. One video features the popular children’s character Peppa pig holding a weapon.
The response on schools touching on this topic has been mixed, with some parents being left feeling angry after younger children were upset and traumatized after schools discussed this theme in classrooms.
There are already lots of pressures on schools, who have a duty of care for their pupils. In UK schools, when children enter primary school, some already have mobile phones and easy access to the internet. Parents are aware children watch videos, but often put faith in the age blocking settings which can be used to stop children seeing adult content. The problem is videos can escape the filters using simple children’s titles.
This week the Komorebi Post interviewed Amy*, a teacher, who works at a small primary school on the outskirts of Manchester.
She strongly supports the move by schools. I asked her if she thought primary school children were too young to be told about the dangers, but she feels talking about safety isn’t anything new, “children have, in the past, been taught not to talk to strangers from a young age. Teaching children about the internet is only the same. We need to share with children that both have good and bad people in them.”
In her school, assembly time, which happens once a week, is a time when the whole school comes together. The children are are presented with certificates for good work, and important themes are discussed together with drama being the main way to share sensitive topics.
“We want children to understand the importance of staying safe. Sometimes it’s unavoidable that some children will feel upset, especially those who are young or who may have learning difficulties. We also use circle time to help children with important themes too. This happens in the morning when our class of 30 are together. The children make choices and consider their impact between themselves. This is something that we think works well but each school has their own way of teaching.”
Unlike some schools, Amy’s school has had support from parents and other teachers. They recognize that more is needed and by spreading awareness. Amy feels that the media attention has begun the much required tougher stance by YouTube, with inappropriate content being blocked in places, which will hopefully protect those who are most vulnerable.