Six out of 10 teachers say they are worried about their pupils’ safety online after many became dependent on the internet to continue learning amid lockdown, according to a survey.
The findings come after children across England returned to school following several months away due to coronavirus, an extended absence that over half (53%) of teachers believe is now more likely to cause their pupils issues.
Of the 1,004 teachers surveyed by Opinium for Internet Matters, two-thirds (67%) said tech is now more important than textbooks for learning while 96% think it is important children have access to a connected device.
The online child safety organisation is calling for parents to stay on top of their child’s internet activity as it launches a new campaign on issues young people might be facing, including cyberbullying, screentime, peer pressure, online grooming and viewing inappropriate content.
“Many parents have done a great job home-schooling their children over the last six months, despite busy work schedules,” said Matt Burton, head teacher and star of Channel 4’s Educating Yorkshire series, who is part of the campaign.
“However, tech is becoming part of the new normal when it comes to teaching, so it’s important that parents have a good understanding of their child’s school’s online learning policy.
“We are concerned that parents may relax and think school is taking care of online safety now we’re back, but it needs a joint approach, especially with so many areas facing local lockdowns.”
The study also revealed more than half (56%) of teachers felt unprepared for remote teaching before Covid-19 but the majority think it has had a positive impact on their (71%) and their pupils’ (65%) ability to use technology for learning.
“These figures highlight why it’s more important than ever for parents to stay on top of their child’s online safety,” said Carolyn Bunting, chief executive of Internet Matters.
“We know the back to school period is a pinch-point for online safety issues.
“Many children will own a phone for the first time and some may not have seen their friends since March.
“This combined with tech playing an even bigger role in children’s everyday school life is why we are urging parents to stay switched on when it comes to their child’s online safety.”
Andy Burrows, NSPCC head of child safety online policy, said: “We agree parents have a key role to play in keeping their children safe on social media but the onus should be on tech firms to keep their young users safe.
“If children aren’t safe online then social media platforms should be held accountable, which is why we’re calling on the Government to make progress on the Online Harms Bill this Autumn.”