While the internet opens up a whole new world of learning and discovery, it also has certain risks and dangers. It’s important for students to know how to be safe online so they can experience the enormous benefits of the internet responsibly and with confidence. But just as they learn how to cross the road safely or to be aware of the dangers of strangers, they also need to learn internet safety skills.
Britannica Digital Learning ¹ has carried out research among 11-16 year old to discover how they use the internet and how safe they feel while doing so.
The research revealed that over 52% spent on average between 1-3 hours a day online and over 45% felt that not all the content online was safe for their age group. No matter what students use the internet for, by understanding the risks and knowing what to do if things go wrong, they can stay in control.
The internet offers information and entertainment for people of all age groups, faiths, cultures and nationalities. Much of the content available online is aimed at and written by adults, there are many sites students may not understand or may find unsuitable or inappropriate. Twenty-nine percent of students surveyed said they found it very easy to access inappropriate material online and 41% said that they found it easy.
The internet is a great place to start any research project but how can students know that the information is relevant and correct? It’s important for students to understand the differences between research sites and the types of information they provide. When asked, 40% of students said they didn’t know if the research they find online was correct and unbiased, they just assumed it was. Google and Wikipedia hold vast amounts of information that is both relevant and irrelevant, and it is sometimes difficult for students to establish the facts from the fiction.
Keeping students and young people safe online is not about attempting to limit the time they spend online, or to police every page they visit, but to provide advice which will allow students to understand what the risks are and how best to reduce them. We need to ensure we encourage young people to think and to remember that being e-safe is being e-aware.
Britannica Digital Learning is a global educational publisher with online products that promote knowledge and learning to schools, colleges and universities throughout the world. Britannica’s 100 strong editorial team and over 1000 contributors provide editorially checked, timely, relevant, and trustworthy content that can be used in the classroom and from home. Britannica is a pioneer in digital education, and produces resources that support the least-to-most able.
¹ Britannica carried out online research via PCP among 1,060 11-16 year olds in December 2016.