Commenting on Safer Internet Day (Tuesday 9 February) Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“The internet is a powerful tool for connecting to each other and for learning and, given the events of the past year, we are very grateful to have it. Lockdown and remote learning would have been very different without it. But we do still need to be mindful of the risks – especially as children are spending more time than ever on screens and internet-enabled devices.
“Totally unsupervised use of smart phones and other internet-enabled devices, especially for younger users, is not recommended. Where internet safety is concerned, children should not be ‘left to their own devices’.
“Schools are obviously taking great care over what content is suitable for use in remote learning and are being thoughtful about how they interact with children online. It is important that parents and carers stay alert too. Just because children are spending more time on their devices for schoolwork, doesn’t mean screen time should become unlimited or devices should be allowed to be used entirely unsupervised.
“It’s important to stay aware of what children are viewing and who they are interacting with. Equally, it’s important that parents encourage openness and have conversations with children and young people about the online world and how to navigate it, and create a safe space for them to turn to when they have questions or concerns.
“We want young people to be informed consumers of technology, safe enough to surf the internet without fear and smart enough to know what to do if they see inappropriate content.
“We would urge teachers and parents alike to be more aware than ever of the risks and concerns regarding internet enabled devices, even as they become more and more vital for learning.”
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