I’m sorry if I’m milking our schools conference yet there is such a lot to talk about. It seems to be in the distant past now but one of the best parts for me on the day was the question and answer session immediately after lunch. By then, thanks to Graham, we had managed to rig up a public address system and so our technical problems were behind us. Having said that I thought I was being lined up for another when I was reminded that one of the panellists would be through a live Skype link. A blue screen of death a couple of minutes before we got underway was not good for my nerves.
There were six of us on the panel. Johnathon from Durham Constabulary’s newly formed Cyber Crime Team and North East Regional Organised Crime Unit; Henry (our online panellist) is the proud founder of the eCadets, the multi award winning online safety empowerment platform for 3-18 year olds; Graham (him of the PA system) who co-ordinates joint working across the region’s councils ICT departments (NEICT)as well as managing ISNorthEast, an IT security network for more than thirty public sector organisations, regional secretary of SOCITM and involved in Dynamo North East; Paul, an Education Development Associate with responsibility for online safety within Durham Councils Education Development Service; and Steve who works with me in the ICT Services and takes a lead role in the Digital Durham Programme.
I’d lined some questions up to keep the panel occupied in case noting was forthcoming from the audience. In the end I needn’t have worried. There were a few questions about process and how to deliver effective training yet the main interest was around parental responsibility. Many issues were raised about parents either not understanding the implications of what their children were doing on line or not understanding how their own behaviour was being picked up by their offspring.
Many young people are being allowed to play eighteen plus games and many have access to videos and adult content that their parents have been watching, where the links have been cached.
The key issue, it would seem, is that those people who are responsible for or who have influence over children need to get a good grounding in how online and social media tools work. The only way to do this is to get on and use them. In this way they will quickly understand the benefits, the pitfalls and will be able to talk about them from a position of strength.