When it comes to e-safety, schools are faced with a conundrum: the vast majority of today’s school-age children could be termed ‘digital natives’ but those who are tasked with their protection are, almost inevitably, ‘digital immigrants’. First identified by Marc Prensky in 2001, the ‘digital native’ is one who has been born into the digital culture, while the immigrant has only acquired that culture and is therefore never fully immersed in it. In school terms, this means that pupils often have an intuitive understanding of online technology that school e-safety officers can themselves find baffling.
In addition to this, however, is a problem of even greater concern: many of those who carry out cyber- attacks, bullying and threaten online safety are also often ‘digital natives’ and it can be extremely difficult for anyone, especially the digital immigrant, to predict their next move. Enter the ‘digital community intelligence model’ which, by identifying triggers and indicators, provides experts in the field with valuable data to pre-empt threats and keep the school e-safety function a step ahead of potential attackers.
Those growing up today are learning to develop online alongside the need for online protection which previous generations did not have to contend with. So not only are educators tasked with encouraging full engagement with all the advantages that digital technology offers to school children, but they must also equip them to protect themselves now and to develop behaviours that will continue to protect them into the future. This task is made all the more difficult when the environment is constantly evolving at the same time as young people’s relationship to it, and many of the challenges they will face have yet to fully emerge.
SRM’s VE-SO portal has been developed by a team of highly experienced cybercrime experts not only to assist with the development of proactive e-safety strategies but, through the harvesting of intelligence, to identify trends that are still only emergent. Such a rigorous and strategic defence assists schools in establishing guidelines and life strategies for pupils as well as helping them to meet Ofsted’s stringent standards for ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ e-safety provision.