Supporting parents with internet safety in ELT10 Febbraio 2022 2023-11-16 1:01
Supporting parents with internet safety in ELT
Supporting parents with internet safety in ELT
A strategy for visibility and reputation for language schools
Learning online, doing internet research for homework, gaming and social media is exciting for children and teens. When it comes to ELT the World Wide Web provides endless learning opportunities with a wide variety of ELT resources and platforms that support them with learning and practising English. Supporting parents with internet safety in a way they can help their child be safe online should be part of our social responsibility in ELT.
Undeniably, the internet gives students in ELT many advantages like exposing them to authentic material, patterns of pronunciation, extra listening and so on. However, the cyberspace can be a risky place with many distractions, misinformation and easy access for abusers to make contact with children and young people. For this reason, we often hear of young people being groomed into inappropriate conversations, bullied or harassed online.
Shall we then keep students away from it? No, in the same way, we can’t keep students away from the streets or public places where there are also risks. The solution is educating them to avoid and recognize risks so that they can have a safe online experience. At the same time, supporting parents with internet safety strategies is fundamental. You don’t have to be an expert if you focus on some key aspects as I will mention later in this article.
Why should internet safety be addressed in language schools?
Nowadays, both brick-and-mortar and online language schools require that young learners and teens go online either for lessons, extra practice or homework and sometimes also for group work in preparation for projects. Therefore a respectable and socially responsible language school should address internet safety during lessons, have safe platforms as well as support parents with online safety.
BUT we are about ELT not internet safety!
Wait! We ALL have to play our part in making the internet a safer place and that is regardless of the type of school or business activity.
Due to the increased use of online teaching and learning because of the pandemic, nowadays there is a bigger exposure of kids and teens to the cyber world. This means that it is important to make sure that students are prepared to recognize and avoid risks. It is equally important that the language provider takes all the necessary measures to reduce risks for students.
A language school that cares about its students and goes an extra mile to support them and their parents is by far contributing to the community and creating a respectable reputation for itself. That’s also a school that parents will trust and want to send their kids to.
All language schools are teaching English grammar and vocabulary, however, very few are also instilling skills young and adult students need to thrive at school and work. Guess which type of school has bigger chances of survival in such a competitive market as the ELT one is?
Getting ready to become a socially responsible language school.
I know you are thinking you need to find the right teacher for doing this type of work. I’d say that it’s just a matter of addressing the problem with them and if necessary getting informed. It is essential that teachers have a basic knowledge of internet safety and that you are all aligned on the type of support you will give students and parents.
Raising awareness about the topic is already a fantastic way to contribute and that can be done easily in a language lesson. The coursebooks you use probably already cover cyber safety, You could start by visiting the British Council’s website where there are not only articles but also ready-made lessons. Also, check my favourite list of go-to educational websites that have excellent resources for teachers & schools in ELT. Click and check them out:
My favourite list of go-to educational websites on internet safety for ELT:
- UK Safer Internet Centre
- The Online / Offline technical Report by Unicef
- Be Internet Awesome Tips by Google
- Educational Video to start the conversation with students
- The Teacher’s Guide to Keeping Students Safe Online
Supporting parents with Internet safety
It is often assumed that parents are prepared to help kids to be safe online. The plain truth is that, more often than not, they aren’t. Parents and carers come from different backgrounds and walks of life so let’s not assume that they will know or that they will dedicate time to do it.
If you have read “Why is parental engagement crucial for your school’s success?” you are already aware of the crucial role that parents have for your school’s growth and reputation.
In the context of internet safety in ELT, it is equally important to support parents particularly if children and teens are requested to go online at any stage of the language course. In this way, you are offering excellent customer service as well as playing your part in helping the young generations surf the online world safely.
There’s a wide range of topics that would be hugely appreciated by parents such as:
* Parental controls * Passwords * Netiquette * Avatars * Digital footprint * Privacy * Screentime * Cyberbullying
The above topics can be discussed in a parent meeting or through the school communication channels. Alternatively, you may want to invite a local association to give a talk. If you decide to run the meeting yourself, then here is a list of my favourite websites for parents. Check them out for resources and ideas to use in your parent meeting or school communication.
Support parents with resources and information from my favourite websites :
- Parent Tips and Activity Packet
- Be Internet Awesome Family Guide
- Parental Control Family Link Parents’ guide
- Digital Parenting
Nb All of the above resources could also be used with your adult students that are parents or carers.
From internet safety to school marketing
Whether you are organizing a parent meeting, a workshop or a project with students, make sure you share it on social media. Choose the platform based on who you want to reach as I explained here and start disseminating information about how to be safe online.
There are various ways of doing it. It can be posts of photos, graphics, lists, tips and if you feel like doing a video or a Reel then go for it! For schools that have a blog, internet safety is, without doubt, THE topic to address there.
Safer Internet Day happens every year in early February so mark that date as an important date in your calendar as well as in your social media calendar. By following these four simple steps you will make a positive impact on your students and parents’ lives as well as on society:
- Get prepared to offer guidance to EFL students and parents
- Address internet safety in class.
- Support parents with relevant tips and information
- Share your work and internet safety information on your social media platforms and blog.
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