Internet Safety and Cyberbullying

On Wednesday, we welcomed Brett Lee to our school.  Brett is a professional speaker who provides education to communities with respect to Internet Safety and Cyberbullying.  He facilitated multiple sessions for our community, including a session for the students from Prep  - Year 6,  as well as sessions for our staff and parents.

Brett was able to draw on his personal experiences from 22 years in law enforcement to deliver simple and yet powerful messages to our students, staff and parents.  Messages that had an important focus for each member of our community, with an emphasis importance of working together to navigate the technological world that we live in. 

A key message from the sessions focused on the need to support students to use technology safely, rather than non-engagement.   This requires strategies that enable parents and staff to take control and to work together to set rules and boundaries that support internet safety.  As in so many areas of life, students need to be given guidance and have a clear understanding of expectations for technology use, just like any other area in the real world.  Importantly, messages were shared from the perspective of ‘think before you post’, how to problem solve when issues or uncertainty arises and how not to be a ‘bystander’ when cyberbullying is occurring.   

While there were many great learnings, one that I found particularly powerful, was the challenge that was presented to our students to recognise that the ‘cyber world’ and the ‘real world’ are two parts of the one ‘space’ that we are all a part of; that we are all one ‘community’.  In the ‘real’ world, we can clearly articulate choices that we make in differing situations, why we would make these choices, and ways that we would choose to interact from the basis that they are ‘expected’ behaviours by most people in our community.    The ‘cyber’ world is no different. 

Often, we experience the same emotions in the cyber world as we do in real life, and, just as in the real world, these emotions support the choices that we make in our responses, our interactions, our sharing and in the way that we solve problems.   Our students had the opportunity to share in the knowledge that choice made from behind the screen have the same consequences as face-to-face interactions.  They could clearly respond to the prompt of how important it is to ‘think before you post’ and how this aligns to the choices we make because we are part of a community in real life.   Some of their responses are shared below in response to the prompt of “I wouldn’t do it because…

  • …there would be consequences for the choices made.”

  • …it could hurt the feelings of others.”

  • …our choices could disappoint family and friends.”

  • ..we would feel disappointed about ourselves.”

  • …people might think that I am that person all the time.”

Below are some of the key messages that our students, staff and parents received from their session with Brett Lee:

First message:   Internet is permanent and public.

  • The internet is the most public place that you will ever be, and you cannot expect that it is private, even if you are using what you believe is a ‘private’ domain.

Second message:  I protect my personal information online.

  • You would never choose to give your information to a stranger and the internet is no different.  If someone isn’t a part of your physical world, your real world, then they don’t require your personal information. 

  • You need to protect yourself in the cyber world in the same way that you do in the real world.  The cyber world and the real world are two parts of the same space – life.

Third message: Who do I give trust too?  Who are my trusted adults?

  • The biggest group of people that we meet online are strangers.  It is important that we know who the trusted adults are and that we talk to them regularly about our actions in the cyber world as well as those in the real world. 

The above messages are important, and I encourage all parents to access the links referenced below for more information and ways of supporting internet safety for all children. Brett Lee:  https://www.internetsafeeducation.com/

This is a great resource and contains actionable tools and information.  Once accessing the website, click on ‘Parent Hub’.

For our parents, Brett provided 5 key principles and actions for technology:

  • Communicate with your kids

  • Set clear rules and boundaries

  • Stay current: Stay up to date with apps and programs

  • Use management tools:  Consider and use parental controls

  • Parents take charge:  Be the one who make the final decision

Thank you to our P&F for their financial support towards the cost of Brett Lee’s visit.  It was wonderful to be able to engage so many in our community in such a relevant topic that provided excellent resources.  These key messages and strategies need to be shared with all our students from an early age.