Online Safety 2024-2025

‘Achieving Best Practice in Online Safety in Schools’

February 6th, marked Safer Internet Day (2024 Theme – ‘Inspiring change? Making a difference, managing influence, and navigating change online.’), a day in which we are all encouraged to pay particular attention to the importance of keeping children and young people safe online. this year Safer Internet Day focused on technological changes, this includes covering.

  • Young people’s perspective on new and emerging technology

I thought I would embrace ‘new technology’ and use Artificial Intelligence and ask a Chat GPT how it would define Online Safety for Schools. Chat GPT defined it as follows:

However, with far more emphasis being put on Online Safety within ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’, the new requirement of specific Online Safety education adds to the importance of receiving the most up-to-date, relevant, and appropriate Online Safety Training. Whilst KCSiE 2024 will see no changes to ‘Online Safety’ within the document, this does not take away from what are the Legal and Moral expectations of all Schools – Hence Online Safety ‘Best Practice’

Regardless of any school’s location around the world, students grow up with access to computers, gaming devices & smart phones,  all with access to the internet. This makes the Internet more accessible and became so important for remote learning during the pandemic, that has seen an increase in usage and screen time. Furthermore, most students love to explore and experiment, with Social Media, Apps, Games, and Gaming Communities, therefore British and International Schools now require specific bespoke Online Safety workshops for Students, Staff, and Parents, along with guidance on creating and maintaining Policies to keep Students, Staff, and the School safe.

So, Online Safety for Schools is far more involved and needs far more clarification. Online Safety within Safeguarding is certainly now very much ‘standalone’ and requires specific training/workshops for the Whole School, Staff, Students & Parents. Keeping Children Safe in Education (UK), prioritises Online Safety Training for all schools, and robust Filtering & Monitoring in Schools, therefore schools should now consider Online Safety as a statutory requirement as well as ‘Best Practice.’ Online Safety workshops are of paramount importance irrespective of country or location. All children, teenagers, and young adults use devices, social media/apps / online games which can have a massive impact on their safety, future goals, and targets (Cyber Vetting for Employment & Universities). Bespoke Online Safety training/workshops should be considered a safeguarding necessity as well as a legal priority pending any inspection by the Schools Inspectorate.

Achieving Best Practice in Online Safety in Schools

Chat GPT is quite correct Online Safety is about creating a secure digital environment for students and staff – educating and enforcing measures to prevent exploitation, and promoting responsible online behaviour, but how?

Whilst the responsibility of Online Safety falls on the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL), or the Online Safety Coordinator (OSC), achieving best practice must involve, Governors / Executive / Directors – Senior Leadership Team – DSL / OSC – Staff – IT – Parents – Students, ‘The Whole School Approach.’ Creating and implementing an effective Whole School Approach to Online Safety is not easy, and requires dedication, commitment, and understanding of the current Online Safety guidelines, statutory requirements, and recommendations.

The Whole School Approach can be described as; creating a culture that incorporates the principles of online safety across all facets of school life. Schools must seek to achieve best practice in supplying online safety within schools from workshops for students, staff, and parents to robust filtering monitoring and reporting practices. Employing the online safety principles consistently will allow for best practice to be exhibited. This includes expecting the same standards of behaviour whenever a pupil is online at school – be it in class or using their own device.

The Promotion of ‘Best Practices’ in schools must include ‘Online Safety by incorporating.

1.          Online Safety Audit  – an annual Online Safety audit is expected and extremely vital, it allows schools to identify areas of strength and those that require development.

2.          Whole Staff – Governor Executive Training – Online Safety CPD training must be available for all staff and school governors / executives. Student & Parent Workshops – These must be age relevant and updated to be of any value to students and parents.

3.          Online Safety Policies – Acceptable Use Policies – A standalone Online Safety policy must be created and available to the whole school community

4.          Acceptable use policies, for all (staff, students, parents, visitors), must be clear, concise, robust, and enforceable

5.          Robust & Integrated Reporting Routines – students and staff must have a clear reporting process;  the Designated Safeguarding Lead and Online Safety Lead details must be published and accessible.

6.          Monitoring & Filtering – Schools now have a statutory requirement to monitor and filter students internet usage to prevent inappropriate access. This can be through local authorities or private companies offering monitoring software.

7.          Involvement in Themed Days – Schools should use, Safer Internet Day, Anti Bullying Week and Mental Health Week as a way of prioritising Online Safety to keep the whole school community involved.

8.          Online Safety Coordinator – to work in parallel with the DSL and monitor staff online safety and the implementation of the ‘Whole School Approach.’

9.          Online Safety Governor / Trustee / Executive – to be appointed and to oversee the Whole School Approach to Online Safety and authorise policies.

10.        Online Safety Committee – Governors, Students, and Staff to meet and discuss the schools’ Online Safety approach, from policies to use of devices within school.


Like the Internet, Online Safety is here to stay, so Schools should not wait for the next School Inspection, or the next Keeping Children Safe in Education document, schools should be seeking the most accurate and relevant Online Safety Training to ensure they are keeping the Whole School Community safe.

Jonathan Taylor MSc (OnlineSafety4Schools)

email :

Online Safety 4 Schools Current Popular App List

Identify Good and Bad Apps:

Whilst all these challenges are physical not technological, without the use of technology (mobile phones / tablets etc), the message could not be spread, therefore the online validation sought, the online badge of honour received, and the online motivation and justification for behaving this way would not be warranted or ‘go viral’.

Online Competence

Online ‘Competence’ when using ‘Social Media – Online Games & Gaming Communities

There are four levels of Online Competence, that result from behaviour. Most children and young adults unfortunately are not competent to use so many devices, from Smart Phones, Nintendo Switches, IPads, Tablets, Play Stations to X Boxes. These devices are supplied by parents who believe the device is necessary as a gift and Competency is not even considered. Therefore which type of Online Competency can be influenced by adults, carers and teachers ?.

Unintended Competence  – Accidental Appropriate Online Behaviour – Safe Online Behaviour (JUST)

Intended Competence  – Deliberate Appropriate Online Behaviour – Safe Online Behaviour

Intended Incompetence – Deliberate Inappropriate Online Behaviour – Unsafe Online Behaviour

Unintended Incompetence        Accidental Inappropriate Online Behaviour Unsafe Online Behaviour

Accidental Inappropriate Online Behaviour

Due to

Ease of Access / Device / Connectivity                 Ease of Downloading / Installing

Unaware of Possible Online Dangers                   Peer Pressure

No or Ignorant of Age Restrictions                      No Supervision

Affluent Neglect                                                    Random Play                                               etc

Resulting in

Unintentional Victims

GPS / Location Services –            Identifying Home Address from Social Media Posts

                                                        Identifying Home Address from Gmail (Google Timeline)

Webcam Compromise –               Spyware from Viruses

                                                        Viruses from Streaming Films (File Sharing)- Remote access to Webcams

The Possible Negative of Social Media Usage by Children & Young Adults

Possible Negative Effects

  • Devices – from Smart Phones to Tablets to Laptops to Nintendo Switch to TV’s, it is extremely easy to be carried away about ‘Screen Time’ and completely worried about the amount of time children and young adults are spending staring at device screens .
  • More & More pupils are discussing issues with SLEEP, DEPRESSION, ANXIETY & FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
  • Online Safety remains using dialogue with your children & young adults, and not about denying usage.
  • Certainly, as a last resort, denying access can work but before you get that far, try my Online Safety Top Ten Tips.

Using social media is not directly harming teenagers – but it can reduce the time they spend on healthy activities, such as sleeping and exercising – UK BBC

The American Academy of Paediatrics has warned about the potential for ‘negative effects of Social Media in young children and young adults – including Online Bullying – US FORBES

Social Media / Gaming Positive Effects – Speaks Up – Connects with others – Making new friends – Communicating – Direct Messaging – Emailing – Texting

Social Media / Gaming Negative Effects – Consuming Time – Scrolling – FOMO – Watching Tik Tok – Watching Snaps – Watching Games – SELF COMPARISON

Possible Negative Effects (cont)

Survey results found that Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter & Instagram all led to increased feelings of depression, anxiety, poor body image and loneliness. Too much passive use of Social Media – just browsing posts- can be unhealthy & has been linked to feelings of ‘envy, inadequacy & less satisfaction with life. Studies even suggested that it can lead to ADHD symptoms, depression, and sleep deprivation.

A recent survey of almost 1,500 young people (aged 14-24) from across the UK asked them to score how each of the social media platforms they use impacts upon 14 health and wellbeing-related issues which were identified by experts as the most significant.

The Main Health and Wellbeing-related issues :

  • Anxiety -feelings of worry, nervousness or unease
  • Depression – feeling extremely low and unhappy
  • Loneliness – feelings of being all on your own –
  • Sleep – quality and amount of sleep
  • Self-expression – the expression of your feelings, thoughts or ideas
  • Self-identity – ability to define who you are
  • Body Image – how you feel about how you look
  • Real World Relationships – maintaining relationships with other people
  • Community Building – feeling part of a community of like-minded people
  • Bullying – threatening or abusive behaviour towards you
  • FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) – feeling you need to stay connected because you are worried things could be happening without you.

                                                                                       Advice & Guidance

12-17-Year-Old Social Media Statistics

91% of 16–24-year-olds use the Internet for Social Media & Gaming

Social Media & Gaming use is linked with increased rates of anxiety, depression and poor sleep

Social Media & Gaming has been described as more addictive than cigarettes and alcohol

Best & worst Social Media Apps for ‘mental Health ?

BEST – You Tube / Twitter / Facebook         WORST – Instagram / Snapchat / Tik Tok / Discord / Steam

What age should a student be on Social Media

Ages 0 – 13 – Private

Age 12 – Parents should have a discussion with your child and explain what their online brand should look like – Be Proud

Age 13 – Parents should consider a signed Social Media & Gaming Use Contract / Online Safety Screen Plan

Age 13 – 15 – Start building a personal portfolio, use positive personal photos and posts. Use Instagram, Snapchat, Tik Tok as an extension of the personal online brand not the sole personal brand.

Age 14 – 15 Publish the portfolio as a website & / or Blog to improve Google results

Age 17- Schools should discuss Positive Digital Tattoos for Universities and future employment.

What age should a child have their own Smart Phone

Ages 0 – 10 – No Phone – No need

Age 10-13 – ‘Brick Type’ Phone, that allows for SMS, text messaging and managed phone calls.

Age 13 – Parents should consider a signed Smart Phone Contract

Age 14 – Consider a Smartphone (without Social Media installed), use Google Family Link (Android) & Family Sharing (Apple).

Age 15- Smartphone with Social Media & Gaming Apps installed

What can Parents / Trusted Adults Do ?

  • Remind all children and young adults that they can always come to them for help, guidance, and advice. Important they show themselves as ‘responsible’ before setting up their own profiles.
  • Use the Online Safety Ten Top Tips for Parents & Ten Top Tips for Young Users to maintain an appropriate use of Social Media & Gaming sites and Apps.  
  • Use the Apps and Sites resource to understand the possible issues and harm that may occur

What Parents & Carers can do – Important Steps to Keep Children Safe Online

  • During COVID- 19, virtual schooling, lockdown and excessive internet access, parents, carers trusted adults must speak openly with their children, about the dangers of social media, and online predators, parents can better prepare children for the dangers of online activity.
  • Make sure that your child only interacts, messages, and engages with ‘True Friends’. True friends are friends who do not ask personal questions e.g., Family, cousins, school friends and outside school friends.
  • It is essential to have security settings in place. Parents should also monitor their child’s social media activity by becoming “friends” or following them on various social media accounts and being present while kids are using social media in the house.
  • Whenever possible, make sure the location services on your child’s phone or individual apps are disabled. This is especially so for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc, as it is possible to establish exactly where the most common place is, that your child posts from (i.e., Home)
  • Always Check on Live Streaming – choosing a generic screen name and profile picture, that hides a child’s identity is a must. Additionally, in the live streaming App, it is important for parents to monitor their child’s live broadcasts to keep things in check by passively watching.
  • Speak to School Principal, the School Designated Safeguarding Lead, or the Class Teacher.

Jonathan Taylor MSc

Digital Tattoos & Cyber Vetting

Permanency of Social Media Posts, Comments, Shares, & Images

Online Privacy Does Not Exist

With Children using social media, games and gaming communities at ever younger ages, personal data, beliefs, comments, posts, images etc whether accurate or not, will be available ‘forever’ including when the child becomes an adult.

The education company Kaplan found that 36 percent of college admissions use social media profiles in decision-making about applicants; 58 percent reported that what they found had a negative impact. “The ripple effects of derogatory language can be very long and deep,” said Tara L. Conley. Interestingly in Europe, social media posts are often considered data and easier to regulate. In America, social media posts are considered speech, and free speech often outweighs the right to privacy.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt once suggested that young people have the automatic right to change their names upon adulthood, to gain distance from their online pasts, of course this simply would not work due to the data being discovered by facial recognition, ‘Cyber Vetting’.

But when should children / young adults actually know better, and how far should social media be used to judge and delve into identity and social conduct?


  • Data Collection and Retention exists
  • Further Education Colleges offer & deny places because of cyber vetting
  • Employment establishments (companies) use Cyber Vetting as part of their Selection Recruitment Process
  • Cyber Vetting can be carried by individuals, companies or using software
  • Cyber Vetting is ‘Legal’

What about the Right to be Forgotten?

The right to be forgotten Article 17 of the GDPR states, “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay and the controller shall have the obligation to erase personal data without undue delay”. So, children and parents can petition data companies to unlink them in search engines  (even from things that they have posted themselves) from information that’s no longer relevant to their reputation.

Section 4 of this petition request the ‘reason for erasure request’ with one of the reasons being ‘You are a child, you represent a child, or you were a child at the time of the data processing, and you feel your personal data was used to offer you information society services’

Unfortunately, whilst the Right to be Forgotten does exist ‘on paper’ but there are many variables that tend to hinder data deletion and whilst each request will have to be evaluated individually, there is the additional technical issue of identifying all the places an individual’s personal data is stored or processed.

Deletion v Permanent (Criminal Records v Online Records)

Here in UK our legal system allows for the deletion or wiping out of juvenile criminal records, depending on the severity of the crime, the age of the defendant and other factors. So, faux pas or misguided behaviour as a juvenile can be forgotten under our legal system. But we haven’t yet done it for inappropriate or unacceptable online posts, comments or shares.

Irina Raicu, director of the Internet Ethics Program at the Centre at Santa Clara University, stated “Should we judge people for who they are now or who they were, years or decades ago?” “….. we do need to allow for the possibility of people growing and changing.”

Education & Awareness

Online Harm is normally described as Sexual, Physical or Emotional Exploitation, whilst this can take place at any age, Online Reputation Damage can occur to all because of not protecting your Digital Tattoo.

Students now need to be proactive in creating Positive Digital Tattoos & cleaning up their Social Media Profiles to ensure Cyber Vetting by Universities & future Employers remains positive. What Students do not understand is that people besides their friends (i.e., Colleges, law enforcement, principals, parents, and potential employers) are looking in on these behaviours constantly. They need to be aware of the possible consequences due to the permanency, viewing and accessibility of online posts, sharing, comments and images,

Jonathan Taylor MSc – Online Safety 4 Schools – email

Sexting or Inappropriate Images or Criminal Offence

Sexting or Inappropriate Images or Criminal Offence

UK Soap Opera (Coronation Street) Story Line

ScreenHunter 366

Asha (girl aged 14) send images and a video of herself to Corey (boy aged 16)

Circumstances;    1. Corey requested that Asha pose for him (coercion)    2. Asha then stripped and posed    3. Without Asha knowing – Corey records the screen and keeps recording on mobile phone.    4. Kelly (15) finds Coreys phone and sends video to all in a Group Chat on a messaging service – without Corey knowing.     5. Ashas father ‘Dev’ explodes and shows his anger towards his daughter.

Questions –

Who commits and offence?     Does the secret recording aggravate Coreys sexual deviancy & offending ?     How should the father react-what should he do?

Sexting or Inappropriate Selfies – ‘Criminal Offences ?’



Definition: The Term Sexting is used generally to encompass a wide variety of digital activities: sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images. Although mobile phones are the most common vehicle for sexting, the term can also apply to sending sexually explicit messages through any digital media such as email, instant messaging, and/or social media sites.

What parents need to know – Facts about Sexting

Why is it a Problem: 1. A photo shared between two people can quickly become a viral phenomenon. Children & Young Adults may believe it will be kept private and then discover it has been shared widely with their peers, sometimes with grave consequences. These include arrests of teenagers who shared photos of themselves or other underage teenagers. Sexting could result in charges of distributing or possessing child pornography.

Why is it a Problem: 2. The increase in young people sexting cannot have escaped the attention of most parents. Data from police forces published in November 2017 showed a surge in children sharing or possessing sexual images of themselves or others – sometimes referred to as “Self-Generated Images” – with over 6200 incidents reported 2016-17 being an increase of 131% from 2014/2015.

73% of parents believe that sexting is always harmful.

39% of parents are concerned that their child may become involved in sexting in the future.

13% of boys and girls had taken a topless picture of themselves

55% had shared them with others

3% had taken fully naked pictures

31% had also shared the image with someone that they did not know

Criminalisation of Children

Legal Facts:

1. Age of criminal responsibility is 10 years of age – Therefore, a child age 10 and over can be reported and investigated by Police.     

2. A Child is anyone under 18 years of age – Therefore sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit messages, photographs, or images of anyone ‘believed’ to be under 18 may commit an offence.                                                                                                         

3. Sexting is a criminal offence – It is illegal for anyone to take, make or share indecent images or videos of children under the 1978 Protection of Children Act – even if the image is self-generated and shared consensually.                                                                           

4. Prosecution and Criminalisation – If anyone under the age of 18 but over 16 years of age is charged and prosecuted or cautioned for the offence they can be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 2 years, anyone under 16 but over 10 years of age can be placed on the Sex Offenders Register for 1 year.                                                                                 

5. Outcome 21 – The Police may now decide that Offences involving sexting may be dealt with differently thereby avoiding criminalising children or causing them unnecessary fears and concerns. The ‘outcome 21’ allows Police to resolve crimes with the appropriate contextual factors in a proportionate and effective way, thus preventing children being placed on the Sex Offenders Register. However, the Outcome 21 decision and investigation has the potential for appearing on the Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service process (old CRB check).

Why do Children get Involved in Sexting?


Children do get involved in Sexting and this is becoming the norm with teenagers, what must be remembered is that most of all images and videos are sent willingly and most likely upon request. Whilst this is a criminal offence, the reasons for taking and sharing can be very innocent and all part of growing up, understanding their own sexuality and establishing a relationship.

Teen “romance”                            – image / video shared willingly

Intimacy with partner                  – image / video shared willingly

Flirting / Prank / Joke                   – image / video shared willingly

Showing off (parties)                   – image / video shared willingly

Impulsive risk-taking                   – image / video shared willingly

Peer pressure                               – image / video shared willingly

However, whilst most images / videos are taken and shared willingly there can be unintentional consequences as a result of a breakdown in a relationship or the loss of control of the sharing of an image or video. Furthermore, there may be coercion or blackmailing as a result of online engagement with online strangers.

Revenge                               – image / video shared to cause Shame

Bullying or intimidation          – image / video shared (Online Psychological Exploitation)

Tricked or Coerced               – image / video shared (Sexually Exploited)

Blackmail                             – image / video shared for (Physical Financial Sexual Exploitation)

Viral Phenomenon               – image / video  shared exponentially (Online Reputation Damage)

What devices & platforms do Children use in Sexting?

Any device that has internet connectivity and allows for email, messaging services and/or App and gaming usage is capable of being used to send and share imagery. Mobile phones are the most popular device used for sexting followed by PC and tablets.


Any platforms that allows for photos, videos and live streaming are capable of being used to take, share and broadcast sexually explicit imagery. The most popular Apps and social media are Snapchat, Whats App,  Instagram, Kik, Tik Tok and We Chat, with text messaging and email also being used.

Parental Advice & Top Ten Tips


Whilst Sexting is a known term for the sending or receiving of sexually explicit images or videos, it is a generally a word that is not used or accepted by teenagers, they would prefer to use the word ‘Nudes’. One reason for this is the normalising of this behaviour, another is that most children always feel a sense of embarrassment when discussing any issue with the word ‘sex’ in it. Therefore, it is worth noting that the definition of Sexting does equal the definition of Indecent Images of Children and that a ‘Sext’ could also be described as an Inappropriate Selfie. Using ‘inappropriate selfie’ with your children will allow for a less embarrassing and accepted form of discussion.

  1. Understand what image sharing apps / platforms are used by your children.
  2. Start discussions early about the risks of sexting.
  3. Stress that it isn’t OK to pressure someone into sexting, or to let others pressure you.
  4. Remind your child that once an image is sent, they can’t control or retract it.
  5. Stress that it is not acceptable to engage with or send personal images or videos to online strangers.
  6. Explain the possible legal consequences.
  7. Explain the possible Online Reputation consequences and the issues of Cyber Vetting by universities and companies.
  8. Talk with teens about sexting situations they might face, and safe responses.
  9. Talk to your children about what a healthy romantic relationship looks like.
  10. Under 14’s – Ask permission before you send a picture or video.

Jonathan Taylor MSc

ps….Now Booking for Sept 2020 onwards for Whole School Workshops email below.

Social Media, Apps & Gaming are nothing to be afraid of, However schools must

Keep Pupils Safe        Protect Educators          Safeguard Schools

                                                       So What is required of schools?                                                          

Training for Teachers

Workshops for Pupils Yrs 1 – 13

Parental Information Workshops

Online Safety Policies –

Filtering & Monitoring of Internet Usage

                                 What do All Staff Need to Know about Online Safety ?                             

Keeping Pace with Social Media & Online Safety Online Exploitation:Online Bullying/Online/Grooming/Online Reputation