Quick Take: We will look at digital literacy and e-safety and how it should become part of any school’s educational curriculum. Learn about:

  • Aspects of Digital Literacy Programs
  • Importance of e-safety
  • Examples of E-Safety scenarios to try out in your class
  • Digital literacy will become an important aspect of a student’s overall education. As a school, you want to protect your students to make sure that they are safe with whatever they are doing whilst using the technology. However, at the pace the internet is re-inventing itself, it becomes hard to keep up with the rapidly changing digital world in which our children live and learn and the networked social playground they are using. Like learning to cross the road, e-safety skills are skills for life. If children can understand the risks and can make sensible and informed choices online, they can get the most from the internet and stay safe whilst doing so – particularly from those people who might seek them out to harm them.

    If you are not already doing so, every school should look to introduce a Digital Literacy Program in which not only areas of Edtech creativity, communication, computational thinking, and collaboration is introduced within a structured and informal manner but in which e-safety etiquette and online awareness is integrated within the curriculum for students to use technology both safely and respectfully. In this program, young children come to recognize acceptable and unacceptable behavior and learn why it is important to keep information private. Most importantly though, children learn to acknowledge their own digital well-being and know where to go for help and support when they have concerns about the type of content and contact they face online.

    A school has every responsibility to educate their pupils in maintaining a good digital reputation online, particularly in this date and age where one’s digital footprint is of key importance. This is a trademark for our next generation and while using technology can bring about great learning opportunities, there is a flip side to it, in which a few slip-ups can be harmful to a child.

    Listed below is a series of e-safety scenarios in which students can find themselves both offline and online. Our recommendation is to discuss this in your class and listen to all the possible solutions or advice that your students offer. Everyone likes to think they have the ‘right’ answer but what is interesting is the responses that you will receive. It will help give you an insight into how your students think and the types of challenges they face.

    In all of it though, It is important to remember that providing online safety is not just about blocking websites and offering stringent internet monitoring or limited internet usage, but rather is about offering knowledge to your students, so they can make informed choices when they find themselves in difficult situations. Use the e-safety scenarios below to guide students on how to handle uncomfortable or inappropriate situations as they arise. Included as well is advice that can guide your conversations with the students.

    An extract of some E-Safety scenarios lifted from the Digital Literacy Series and the Digital Parenting books by Dr. Neelam Parmar
    Student victim of no Digital Literacy and  E-Safety EducationE-Scenario 1
    Someone I don’t know has sent me an email. The email reads: READ ME!
    What shall I do?

    Advice: Explain to the students that there are some bad people out there who are looking to introduce viruses and/or malware into systems so that they can corrupt or get access to their personal information. If a child does not know the sender, then it is important not to open any emails or attachments.

    E-Scenario 2
    I have met a really great person online. He is a good friend now. His name is John and he likes to play video games. He wants to meet me now in real life.
    What shall I do?

    Advice: Young children are naïve and while we want them to become social creatures, it is just as important to protect them. This can bring about mixed messages for the child. Explain to the students that as good code of conduct, it is not them to meet with people they know online unless they are also their offline friends.

    E-Scenario 3
    I saw something really horrible today when I was surfing the internet. It made me feel really terrible and sad inside.
    What should I do?

    Advice: If a child sees something online that makes him/her feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried, tell the child to leave the website, turn off the computer and tell a trusted adult immediately. This should also be reported to the school.

    E-Scenario 4
    Today I was surfing the net and wanted to play some online games.
    It costs £4.99 and says it needs bank account details. My mum has a bank card online.
    What should I do?

    Advice: Never use your parent’s bank account details without their permission. Explain to the students that this is a fraud and criminal activity.

    E-Scenario 5
    I am 10 years of age and legally not allowed to use social media such as What’s App, Snapchat or Instagram. However, all your friends are on it and it seems like so much fun! Your friends tell you to download it anyway and that no one is going to find out.
    What should I do?

    Advice: Explain to the class that most social media sites require a minimum user age of 13 years. In order to set up an account, a child will have to have lied about his/ her age, which is a violation of the rules. While there is no direct legal action taken for this, there is a reason age limits are set. While joining social websites is theoretically free, what is actually taking place is data collection, which is sold over to data brokers who, in turn, are targeting specific and personal advertising directly to the user. It is better to be safe than sorry but if they are going to go ahead and get a social account anyway, then ensure it under parental or guardian consent and guidance.

    E-Scenario 6
    I have been receiving some very hurtful texts from an unknown phone number. I suspect it is from one of your classmates in school. At first, it did not bother you but now the texts are very mean and personal. Initially, it was one text a day but now increased to one every couple of hours. You think you know who it is but too scared to tell the teacher.
    What should I do?

    Advice: Explain to the class that the bully is looking for a reaction and that he/she should not reply. By responding to the bully, the targeted child is giving exactly what the bully wants. Save the evidence immediately, report it to your teacher, and school who will take it further to the relevant authorities. It may also be a good idea to block the phone number.

    E-Scenario 7
    I have a friend who is obsessed with social media, gaming, YouTube and has even confided in you that he/she is using it until very late at night. Your friend’s parents don’t know. You think your friend is addicted to the internet and you are worried about their well-being.
    What should I do?

    Advice: As a friend, you should let a trusted adult know you are worried about your friend’s mental state. If you cannot confide in a teacher then it important to speak to your parent so he/she can take the matter further on your behalf. More parental advice can be given which is available in the Digital Parenting book. (https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=digital+parenting+neelam+parmar&ref=nb_sb_noss )

    E-Scenario 8
    I want to buy a game that is not aged appropriate. You played it at your friend’s house and cannot see what the fuss is about PEGI game ratings. All video games are after all make believe and you know there is no real danger involved. Should you just go ahead and buy it or talk to your parents first?
    What should I do?

    Advice: Explain to the students that there is a very valid reason for PEGI ratings on games. Some games can be more violent/scary/adult-like than others and there can be a negative effect on their well-being. Therefore, it is very important that they play games that are age appropriate

    Turning Digital literacy and E-safety into Lessons for the Classroom


    After the E-Scenario exercise above and listening to how your student discusses these issues among themselves it should become very clear how much they know about e-safety and digital literacy. Taking these lessons and integrating it into your normal class planning will help keep your students safe and knowledgeable about the effects of technology in their lives. Start your own Digital Literacy Program today.

    This post was written by Dr. Neelam Parmar, Ph.D. in Edtech from Kent, UK.
    She is the Director of E-learning at Ashford School, UK and a featured educator for ViewSonic. ViewSonic provides digital whiteboard solutions. Click here to learn more about our newest edtech offerings and speak to a Solutions Experts.

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