Safer Surfing of the Web
Recently a group of students, some of their younger brothers and sisters and accompanying parents were asked to write down some information about themselves, not necessarily all actually true! They then read out their descriptions and listened to those of others. What was the truth? Well, some lies were very easy to spot, especially those about age or appearance. Of course they were when you could see the speaker wasn’t at all that they claimed to be! And that, of course, was the whole point! When it’s just a text conversation on a screen how can you judge if the writer is all they say they are?
The session was led by representatives from the charity Safechild (www.safechild.co.uk) who had been invited to Thorpe St Andrew School and Sixth Form to help Year 7 and 8 students to be more alert to the ways in which friendships that begin on the Internet can lead to dangerous situations for the unwary. Parents and students joined in with other thought provoking and awareness-raising exercises and watched some moving video clips that left everyone with a lot to talk about in the final group discussion session. The main focus of the evening was social networking sites but we came to realise that any site that allows online participation can be a potential problem if used in the wrong way. Both parents and students found the evening valuable and took away the main message that online friends should be treated with caution and if you are going to meet up in the real world for the first time, then always take along a trusted adult.