Facebook has set aside more than £1 million to train British schoolchildren to be cyber security experts. Set up by Childnet International and the Diana Award, the scheme will has been warmly received by those in the educational technology sector. As part of the scheme students will learn about social media, cyberbullying and the hazards of the wider internet. They will then act as a support group for their friends and fellow pupils, fielding questions and leading online safety initiatives in the classroom.
Following news internet safety company Smoothwall – who provide internet security to over 7,000 schools up and down the country – applauded Facebook for their commitment to stamping out online bullying. “As a platform on which online bullying is likely to occur, we welcome Facebook’s new investment in helping secondary schools protect against cyberbullying,” Claire Stead, online safety ambassador at Smoothwall, said. “At a time when every move children make can be scrutinised online by their peers, it’s hugely important to give young people the training they need to combat online bullying. Technology and media companies should be doing this across the board, as it’s obvious teachers and parents – let alone the children themselves – are ill-equipped to tackle this issue alone. If we truly want the Government to make Britain “the safest place in the world to be online”, we need to start addressing the problems head-on."
She added: “Online abuse is often happening right under teachers’ noses, but it can be so hard for them to notice cyber bullying incidents. It will take a combined effort from many parties to help completely solve this issue; firstly, investment from technology companies to help train students; secondly, government-led courses specifically for teachers on the vast web of online abuse; thirdly, greater awareness programmes from charities and organisations to help parents spot the signs of cyber bullying. And last but by no means least, schools need a smart, proactive approach to content filtering and monitoring – using the latest in smart web filtering and monitoring – to safeguard children and give them that extra layer of safety and security.”
Facebook says its investment will allow every UK secondary school to have its own digital safety ambassador, should they be interested in the project. In total, that could be an extra 4,500 pupils sharing good advice with their peers.