Welsh Government introduces scheme to teach safe use of social media in schools
The Welsh Government is to introduce lessons in the safe use of digital and social media tools to the curriculum. Schools are to give students more access to social media sites and teach them about how to protect their personal information and to protect their personal brand online.
The scheme is being run by the office of the information commissioner and will be followed by a broader pilot across the UK. It reflects a mature attitude to social media – recognising the role these tools play (and the increasing role they will play) in the lives of young people and providing them with the tools and education to protect themselves.
The Assistant Information Commissioner for Wales, Anne Jones, commented:
It’s trying to make sure that they deal [with their personal information] appropriately – that they don’t give it away to the wrong people, that they keep it safe where it needs to be kept safe
The importance of social media education
Such lessons are critical for students. As we continue to share more and more information about ourselves online it is important for them to understand what they are sharing, with whom and what the consequences of this might be. I was recently interviewed by BBC Radio 1 on this topic as part of their Share Take Care season and discussed:
- That anything shared online is there forever. It can be reshared, copied and seen by others, often even if you try to delete the original. The best thing to do is to just not share things in the first place if they might cause problems.
- To know how to set privacy settings for the different sites and networks that you use – think carefully about what you want to use these sites for and who you want to see what you share on it.
- To think carefully about friends you add on sites like Facebook – too many people add friends that they don’t even know, who then have access to your personal photos, comments and data. Only add people you know – you wouldn’t invite strangers into your house.
Whilst social media education like this is important in schools it is also important for many adults too. Social media, and sharing personal data online in this way, is new to everybody. We are all learning about what we want to share with whom and what people can do with the data we share.