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27 May 2015
By Rebecca Avery

NSPCC Net Aware Resource - Ideas for Use

In January 2015 (updated in April 2015) the NSPCC launched their Net Aware Campaign. Feedback on Net Aware site has been very positive and Kent schools and settings have been encouraged to share the resource with their wider communities.

The Net Aware site can be used reactively by schools/settings and children's workforce professionals following an online safety concern or an incident with parents and children. However Net Aware can also be used proactively by settings and professionals with children and families as part of e-Safety education to increase awareness throughout the community.

Following a consultation where Net Aware was recommended as a proactive resource one primary head teacher said  “What an excellent resource! I didn’t know about most of the sites the Net Aware resource features but I have no doubt that many of my pupils do! I’ll definitely be sharing this with all my families as essential reading.

Below are some practical examples of how schools/settings and professionals have used Net Aware to raise awareness of online safety and support children and families in keeping safe online.

  • Highlighting "Net Aware" via other communication tools.
    • Schools and settings should be aware that not all parents access websites regularly so it's a good idea to use a variety of communication routes to highlight useful resources. Examples could include:
      • Using school/settings newsletters. One school shared the Net Aware content via the monthly newsletter and  asked pupils and parents to add or contribute their own comments and reviews. These localised additions were then uploaded to a blog on the school VLE.
      • Sharing the link with parents/carers via email and/or text alert systems.
      • Sharing on social media platforms. With many schools and settings now using Facebook, Twitter etc to engage with families, social media tools can be an excellent way to highlight resources such as Net Aware with parents/carers in a supportive and informative way.
  • Using "Net Aware" in response to a specific online safety concern.
    • The Net Aware site can be used as a resource for schools/settings to enable them to discuss concerns and support children and families following an online safety issue.
      • One primary school had an issue with a child (10) using Instagram to send nasty comments to others. The head teacher printed off the Net Aware resources and used them to discuss the concerns directly with the parents. The school found that the net aware resources helped them to explore why they were concerned not only about the nasty comments posted, but also the use of Instagram by the child in a way which produced a partnership approach.
      • One primary school became concerned about the language being used by year 6 pupils on the playground and following a class discussion, were concerned that children were using apps that allowed them to talk on webcam with unknown individuals ( e.g. Omegle Oovoo, MeowChat). The school spoke directly to the parents and children involved, using Net Aware to highlight possible risks to children when using such apps as parents were unaware of possible risks regarding unsuitable content or knew about any privacy and safety features.
      • A  school was concerned about children using YouTube to post videos/vlogs which revealed personal information and put them at risk of cyberbullying. The school used Net Aware and the BBC webwise content to encourage children and parents to be aware of possible risks as well as benefits of vlogging and also highlighted the need to use privacy settings.
      • A primary school was concerned about increasing reports by children playing video games rated as 13+ to 18+. The school used net aware to highlight other more age appropriate content for children and to encourage parents to explore why video games had age ratings. The school also used content from PEGI and Childnet to support this approach.
      • A secondary school was concerned about cyberbullying issues relating to children's use of instant messaging apps and used Net Aware in class to explore privacy and reporting mechanisms. This allowed children to reflect on which sites they felt were "safer" or offered better support when dealing with nasty comments. The school allowed pupils to bring devices in and use social media as part of a supported lesson (with adult supervision and parental consent) and allowed the children to explore and implement privacy settings and blocking features on the apps they used.
  • Using "Net Aware" to Support vulnerable children and families.
    • Many settings and professionals have concerns about vulnerable children and families when using social media sites and Net Aware can be used to support professionals in exploring possible risks as well as implementing safety approaches to reduce likelihood of harm.
      • A foster carer was very unsure about allowing a 13-year-old to use popular social media sites. The carer felt the child was already isolated due to being looked after but was not being supported by the childs social worker who felt that internet use should be avoided. The carer used Net Aware along with resources from the UK Safer Internet Centre to make a case to ensure that the child was able to set up a site safely with full support and engagement of her carer.
      • A social worker was concerned about a childs use of social media sites and the lack of parental engagement to help keep the child safe online. The social worker used net aware content to help facilitate a conversation about her concerns for the childs safety with the parents and explore issues using the other parents views available on the site. This enabled the social worker to ascertain the parents understanding of the possible risks and to also explore their capacity to safeguard their child online. The Net Aware resources together with content from  Internet Matters and UK Safer Internet Centre enabled the social worker to support the parents to implement positive changes in the home.
      • A special needs school was concerned that children were using unsuitable apps which was having an impact on behaviour in school. They used the resource directly with families to encourage parents and children to explore safety features of sites carefully before use and asked children and parents to express their own comments and views regarding suitability. The school also used the Childnet Star toolkit to support children in exploring explore e-safety with students with autism spectrum disorder.
  • Using Net Aware to demonstrate that the school/setting is building resilience and listening to children's views about online safety.
    • Net Aware can be used by schools and settings within an embedded and progressive e-Safety curriulum to demonstrate that they are equipping children with skills which enable them to manage risk.
      • One school used the Net Aware resources with pupils (year 5/6) and asked them if any sites/apps were missing and pupils were tasked with designing a survey to find out what other pupils in the school were using. The school then asked the year 5/6 pupils to come up with their own comments and advice on the sites that the children felt were most popular in their school ( for example Instagram, YouTube and Minecraft). The school then used the pupil created examples with other children and shared them (via the school website and newsletter) with parents/carers to highlight how children in the school were using technology.

Schools/settings and professionals should always use the Net Aware resources appropriately and online safety concerns must be dealt with in accordance with child protection, anti-bullying, e-Safety and behaviour policy and procedures. If there are concerns about online grooming or sexual behaviour online then reports should be made to CEOP or local law enforcement (using 999 if there is an immediate risk of harm) or local children's social care.  Criminal content online should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation: Please feel free to contribute your own experiences and examples of using Net Aware in the comments below which can be added to this list.