E-safety update

This e-safety bulletin contains information about a number of reports and resources (some of which were published yesterday, 8th November 2018). Plenty of reading here.

Danger: deep water. Photo by Terry Freedman

Danger: deep water. Photo by Terry Freedman

Reports and research

What data is collected by your child’s toys?

Information is continually being collected on children in all sorts of ways — including via connected toys. The Law Commissioner has published a report yesterday (8th November 2018) called ‘Who knows about me?’

“A fundamental challenge to exploiting the benefits of data while managing the risks is that we simply do not know what all of the risks are. The amount of data captured about all of us grows each day, and the rate of that growth becomes faster as technology becomes more developed.”

From Who knows about me?

The report makes a number of recommendations. An especially useful resource, which would be great for discussing with pupils, is the infographic outlining the many ways in which data is collected about us. Visit the report’s home page for all the links.

Petition for a new social media law

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children is running a petition to try to get the Home Secretary to pass a social media law that would:

  • establish an independent regulator;

  • safe accounts for children, with easier reporting of abuse;

  • detailed reporting on how social media companies are keeping children safe.

For more information, and to sign the petition, go to Wild West Web.

The English government’s internet safety strategy

The government published a document back in May outlining its strategy. As Victoria Jenkins, of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, explained at a recent Westminster Forum seminar, the government aims to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online, and the best place for digital business. (I have my doubts as to the efficacy of the forthcoming digital tax in that regard, but still.) I was very pleased to learn that accountability/responsibility on the part of social media companies will be a key feature of the forthcoming legislation. If it actually comes about, it won’t be before time.

Also, there will be an emphasis on age-appropriate design guidelines, which are being worked on by the Law Commission. I hope to include details in a future edition of my newsletter, Digital Education.

I intend to comment further on the proposals in due course, in my newsletter. In the meantime, here is an extract from the Secretary of State’s introduction to it, followed by a link.

“Through our Digital Charter, the Government is working to ensure that the UK is both the safest place to be online, and the best place to start a digital business. We are already working with social media companies so we can protect users and change user behaviouronline. The Data Protection Bill will give more power to individuals to control how their data is used and manage their online experience. And we have also asked the Law Commission to conduct a review into online abusive communications so that we can make sure the criminal law is fit for purpose when tackling abusive behaviour on social media platforms.2

Today, we are introducing plans for a social media code of practice and transparency reporting as part of our Digital Charter. The statutory code of practice provides guidance to social media providers on appropriate reporting mechanisms and moderation processes to tackle abusive content. By setting out clear standards for industry, we will make sure there is improved support for users online, and that more companies are taking consistent action to tackle abuse.”

From Government response to the Internet Safety Strategy Green Paper.

Distinguishing organic search results from promoted results

Jessica Rees, of Ofcom, cited some alarming statistics from their research. I didn’t make a note of the numbers, because they will all be available when the transcript of the conference is published. One that struck me was that 46% (I think) of adults can’t distinguish between organic and promoted results. I find that quite worrying really. Perhaps I’m being unkind, but given that the worldwide web has been around for over 20 years, you’d think adults might have learnt how to navigate it by now. I realise that’s a rather uncompromising position: go ahead, flame me.

Here’s another set of (sobering) statistics from Ofcom:

Internet users’ experience of harm online.

The summary of the research, which was published in September, is very interesting. Read it and weep.

Transparency reports

Both Facebook and Youtube have published transparency reports:

Facebook Transparency Report

Youtube transparency report

A more accountable internet

The Internet Commission, a relatively new body, calls for a more trusted and accountable internet. Its report, based on research, bears reading. It includes a very useful table summarising the findings in terms of key challenges, areas of debate and areas of disagreement as they pertain to various stakeholders.

Digital Exclusion in young people

Contrary to popular belief, not all children are so-called digital natives. This can have unfortunate consequences in terms of assumptions that teachers and others make. There has been research on this some years ago, but last year a report by the Carnegie UK Trust drew attention to the problem:

“Inequality of opportunity and a deepening digital divide

Digital exclusion and social exclusion are known to be linked

Lower long-term wellbeing”

Read the report and its recommendations here: Not Without Me.


Guidance for parents

There are some very useful tips on the Internet Matters website. There are also Digital Resilience Toolkits available for different age groups.

Professional Online Safety Helpline

This facility, known by its acronym POSH, offers advice on matters of concern to teachers and others. Apparently they have helped to get content removed pretty quickly. There’s an email address and a phone number.

Trust Me

This is a set of resources from Childnet.

“Developed in partnership with the London Grid for Learning (LGfL) Safeguarding Board, the resource contains lesson plans for both primary and secondary level that aim to empower educators to discuss how to think critically around the areas of content, contact, and propaganda material that may seek to persuade or change their views.

We have also produced a set of teachers guidance which contains the appropriate background documents for schools and additional content to help you to deliver this resource to pupils. It will give you an overview of the relevant laws online and definitions to support you in answering any questions which may arise during these sessions.”

From Trust Me.

Consent online education packs for 3 to 18 year-olds

Published yesterday (8th November), on Childnet, these resources include packs for different age ranges and also teacher guidance. Read more about them, and find the links, here:

New resources for consent online.

I hope you found this article useful. As stated earlier, I intend to go into more depth on some of the research mentioned here in the Digital Education newsletter. Click here for more information and to subscribe:

Digital Education