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Kids 'don't know enough to stay safe online'

Over 80% of London Key Stage 2 pupils lack the knowledge to search for information safely online, according to new report

Posted by Hannah Vickers | September 16, 2017 | Technology

Over 80% of London school children aged between seven and 11 lack specific knowledge when it comes to searching for information safely online, though 74% have a good overall understanding of online safety, according to new data released by LGfL DigiSafe.

The not-for-profit trust which provides broadband and associated services to 94% of London’s schools analysed information from over 7,800 pupils at 496 schools across the capital submitted through its online safety diagnostic tool CyberPass.

 Key findings from the Safe Online in 2017: A ‘State of the Capital’ Report from LGfL DigiSafe include:

-       only 33% could provide an explanation of their own and others digital footprints, and their impact on peoples offline reputations

-       only 19% of pupils identified effective safe searching skills

-       only 42% of pupils could identify URLs which were safe for personal data entry

-       only 45% of pupils were able to identify the hallmarks of a secure site

-       51% of pupils were able to identify safe use and maintenance of a secure wifi connection 

-       80% of pupils able to provide an explanation of a location-based service (i.e. geotagging) and app-specific settings to turn this on and off

-       91% of pupils able to recognise inappropriate online behaviour and knew strategies to report it

To gather the information, pupils took part in a quiz on eight key online-safety themes: Settings, Privacy, Looking, Share, Playing, Talking, Friends and Money - over half a million questions were answered. The report identified key areas of weakness in safe searching and online money matters, with young people struggling to search for information safely and identify the basic hallmarks of a secure website. Students were shown to be well-acquainted with messages on dealing with friends and sharing information online, however raising the question of why these messages are not always translated into practise.

With recent attacks on businesses and services such as the NHS hitting the headlines, it is worrying to see that children lack the knowledge to deal with threats posed by scams or hackers utilising tools such as insecure webpages - Mark Bentley, Online Safety and Safeguarding Manager at the London Grid for Learning

Mark Bentley, Online Safety and Safeguarding Manager at the London Grid for Learning commented on the findings of the survey: “With recent attacks on businesses and services such as the NHS hitting the headlines, it is worrying to see that children lack the knowledge to deal with threats posed by scams or hackers utilising tools such as insecure webpages.

“As increasing aspects of our lives move online and with young people spending upwards of three hours a day on the internet, it is crucial that schools have the time and resources to teach these skills in the classroom.

“What is encouraging, however, is that London pupils have demonstrated they have a good understanding of how to protect themselves from online predators and cyber-bullies. Against the background of recent exposés surrounding geotagging and live streaming, it’s a good job that positive messages are getting through!”

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