NAHT’s senior policy advisor, Sarah Hannafin, who gave evidence to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee during its inquiry into the impact of social media and screen use on young people’s health, set out NAHT’s view that schools have a key role to play in educating children about online safety, but they are only one part of the wider picture.
Ms Hannafin said: “We welcome the new compulsory sex and relationship and health education curriculum, which includes some really good guidance on teaching primary and secondary children about keeping themselves safe online, as well as talking to them about how too much screen use can impact on their physical and mental health. It’s an important and wide-ranging subject and it’s right that all children are entitled to this education.
“But schools can only ever be part of the picture when it comes to keeping children safe online. Parents and families, social media and gaming companies, the government, and wider society all have an impact on children’s social media and online habits, and all have a responsibility to do what they can to protect children online.”
Ms Hannafin went on to discuss whether mobile phone bans are a good idea for schools, saying: “Mobile phone bans certainly work for some schools but there isn’t one policy that will work for all schools. Outright banning mobile phones can cause more problems than it solves, driving phone use ‘underground’ and making problems less visible and obvious for schools to tackle. Ultimately, schools work to prepare young people for the outside world, giving them the awareness and strategies to responsibly monitor their own screen use and the ability to identify and deal with any negative impacts or problematic content they encounter.”
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