News School Event

Online child safety expert talks to students about e-safety.

It was a pleasure to welcome Samantha Marks from specialist online security company, South West Grid for Learning, into school today to guide students, teachers and parents on the type of online content to share to the wider world and how to respond to potential threats.

‘The internet lets us do amazing things and most of the time it’s a positive and inspiring place. However, it can also be worrying,’ she pointed out during a series of workshop-style sessions.

Beginning with Years 5 and 6 and moving up the Senior School to Year 12s, our visitor offered specific age-related advice, peppered with stories of how peer pressure, upsetting content and the absence of privacy settings can so easily cause it to go horribly wrong.

Samantha urged the Prep School students to really think about the sort of information they posted online. Who might see one of their pictures on Instagram, for example? Would the girls be happy for it to be part of their digital footprint, for it to go out to the whole wide world?

‘All the things we do online stay connected to us,’ she explained, ‘even if your account is private or you think a post will disappear it will be there forever.’

She also touched upon ‘fake news’ with the girls, encouraging them to check sources, and she took them through the various steps to take to stand up to cyberbullies.

In the sessions with the older Senior School students, the focus was more on reputation, ethics and consequences. Our online life, in words and images, says a lot about the type of person we are. Share appropriate content, Samantha urged. ‘If I was to look at your Snapchat messages, your Tumblr accounts and your Facebook posts, what does it say about you?’ She added: ‘Digital dirt sticks. Employers and colleges look at peoples’ online profiles, so keep your public and your social life apart and lock down your settings.’

With lots of tips for safe chat and online dating and relationships, she ended by informing the students of the places and sites where they would be able to get help and support in making positive choices for positive consequences.

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