Staying Safe Online for Children & Young People With Extra Difficulties
At Seashell Trust, we want to support our students to access technology. Technology and the online experience can bring so many positive aspects to their lives, but can also, unfortunately, be a source of risk and negativity. Rather than causing children and young people with disabilities to be scared of the internet, we instead focus on supporting them to understand how to use it safely and effectively.
For those who work with or support children and young people with disabilities and/or additional needs, it’s important to understand how best to safeguard their online experience. The first step is recognising that these individuals are often more vulnerable online. For example, they may have additional communicative needs, meaning they could be unaware of the signs of online abuse, or be unsure how to report any difficulties encountered online.
E-Safety: Technology, Time, Take Care, Tricky, Tell
At Seashell, when any of our lessons are computer based we implement the use of the 5 E-Safe Ts. They are spoken through at the start of the lesson and embedded throughout to ensure that students feel comfortable with each one.
Technology – We list all the different types of technology the students use. This would include iPads, iPods, Tablets, computers, phones and games consoles.
Time – Take your time using technology. Think about what you are doing.
Take care – Take care online. Think about what is right and wrong.
Tricky – If something doesn’t feel right, turn the device off or walk away from the device you are using.
Tell – Tell a member of staff or someone you trust that you have seen or accessed something that you do not like or makes you uncomfortable.
Support Networks for Online Safeguarding
When caring for and supporting children and young people with extra difficulties, it’s vital to have a well-informed team that are working towards the same goals and communicating effectively. This is especially important when it comes to safeguarding online. Seashell’s teachers and other health professionals work closely with our IT and Safeguarding Teams to maintain a valuable support network for our students. We monitor what the students are accessing, and will intervene and explain where necessary.
It’s important to recognise that each child and young person has different needs and experiences, and will naturally require varying degrees of help and methods of online safeguarding and support. If we feel that a student still does not understand how to stay safe online or needs extra assistance for any reason, teachers, support staff and specially trained speech and language therapists will create an individual resource for the student called a ‘social story’. A social story is a brief, simple story designed to teach children about social situations and appropriate responses.
Seashell is a charity dedicated to providing a creative, happy and secure environment for children and young people with complex needs, delivering individually tailored support services that promote independence and build confidence through programmes of education offered through our school and college.
Comment provided by Seashell Trust.