I've been working closely now with Digital Leaders for about 2 months now and it's been fascinating seeing how students work and engage with the internet and social media. As much as these are really good students and tech-savvy with ICT, it has been enthralling to see how they go about engaging with each other on the internet and using the tools available. The nature of this group also allows me to have more full and frank debates on the topic of e-safety outside of normal class discussions.
When discussing e-safety with the students, I was surprised to see how little they actually cared about this issue. They actually understood the idea of child protection, and stated that they had been told this from a really young age. I guess this is the same principal as 'don't talk to strangers' in primary school, and by the time the students had reached year 9/10 they actually didn't seem that bothered. One of the things I did ask them was how they thought they were perceived on the internet (the idea of digital dirt) and again, this didn't seem to bother them. However, when I suggested finding an open student profile and displaying it in the classroom they seemed mortified, so maybe this is a way of showing them how they show themselves to the wider world.
However, I also discussed with them something we covered this year in the areas of viruses, spyware, malware etc. and they said this was one of the more interesting takes on e-safety that they have had this year. They found this more insightful and said they were more likely to think about how they use Facebook in the future than before with the idea of online predators (I did a starter activity on Digital Forensics and the students really loved it!)
Of course, online predators is one aspect of e-safety not to be overlooked, but maybe we should challenge how we approach this topic. The idea that people are watching you on the internet is a scary thing, but nowadays with the sheer amount of information that we (all) are used to putting online, maybe we should revisit the idea of e-safety. Should the idea be to tell students not to put personal details online OR should we teach them what happens when we do and let them make their own educated decision?