Nowadays people can access the internet using a variety of devices such as smart phones and tablets and a variety of technologies such as 3G and Wi-Fi. All of this presents huge opportunities for living, working and learning. At the same time this combination of easy access and exciting activity can present dangers and risks for the learners. Even if technology is closely monitored and protected full control is almost impossible.
Ofsted inspectors are looking to see that risk assessment is taken seriously and used to good effect in promoting e-Safety. They found in schools that pupils were more vulnerable overall when locked down systems rather than managed systems were used because they were not given enough opportunities to learn how to assess and manage risk for themselves.
According to Ofsted Inspecting E-safety (2012) risks that may occur for learners include the following:
- exposure to inappropriate content, including online pornography, ignoring age ratings in games (exposure to violence associated with often racist language), substance abuse;
- lifestyle websites, for example pro-anorexia/self-harm/suicide sites;
- hate sites;
- content validation: how to check authenticity and accuracy of online content.
- cyber-bullying in all for
- identity theft (including ‘frape’ (hacking Facebook profiles) and sharing passwords
- privacy issues, including disclosure of personal information
- digital footprint and online reputation;
- health and well-being – amount of time spent online and for example the activity such as gaming or sexting (sending and receiving of personally intimate images);
Of course carrying out a risk assessment is just the start. Once risks have been identified and assessed they need to be managed. For an individual they can be built into an individual learning or development plan. For the organisation e-Safety risk management can be built into a self-assessment action plan and/or strategy. Risks should be monitored and revised on a regular basis.