Teaching the social and emotional skills needed to be cyber safe

Do you know what your kids are being taught about cyber safety at school?

Do you think it is adequate? Do you know the sorts of things they will cover?

The federal Government has realised the importance of children being responsible digital citizens and McAfees and Life Education have joined forces to bring to Australian primary schools a module to help make this a reality. The bcyberwise module is currently at around 3000 schools. Hopefully if not this one, then your school is doing something to help kids learn the skills they need to be responsible digital citizens.

A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to Sydney to hear about the programme and what sorts of information it covers.
I loved that it focuses on the importance of recognising the many great benefits of technology to our kids, both emotionally. socially and educationally. Like anything though, there is a downside, and these are readily published and talked about. Preventing them however, often seems a little harder to do.

One area that the programme focuses on,  is the importance of teaching our kids the social and emotional skills needed to safely navigate the online world. These help ensure connections online are safe, that privacy of ourselves and others are respected, that our digital footprint remains intact and that our physical and mental health and safety is always a priority.

These skills are outlined as


friendliness, empathy, respect and acceptance

Emotional skills

self respect, impulse control, anger management

Social skills

making friends, conflict resolutions and cooperation

Thinking skills

such as consequential thinking and perspective talking

All these skills I believe are essential for resilience both online and in real life.
This is a great initiative but I think to ensure the best outcomes, it must be complemented with the teaching of these skills in the family home. Whilst most people would be doing this consciously or not in their natural parenting, I think due to the transparent nature of the online world, it is something that probably needs even more effort today than ever before.
The earlier these skills can be nurtured and encouraged the better chance we have of sustaining those skills throughout adolescence and transferring them between the offline and online worlds.

Do you think that it should be schools responsibility to teach cyber safety? Or is it something we as parents must be thinking about from the beginning of their childhood to be used in conjunction with adequate programmes as part of the curriculum?

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Rhianna

    I think with more and more schools using the internet at school the eduction system does have a certain responsibility to teach about cyber bulling and appropriate behaviors online. I know both our primary and middle school both do something about teaching it but I don’t know the exact names of the programs

    Fairy wishes and butterfly kisses #teamIBOT

  2. Rachel

    This sounds like a fantastic program and I wish it was being taught at my sons’ school! I love the fact that it focuses on developing internal resources rather than simply prescribing what good cyber-behaviour is.

    1. Martine

      Yes so true Rachel. It is much better to provide the skills for kids to help them deal with situations as they arise rather than just lecturing at them.

  3. I think any message is more powerful when it is heard at home AND at school. I like what you say about the skills being taught for online behaviour are useful skills in real life too.

    1. Martine

      Yes it would definitely make sense to have the skills reinforced both at home and at school as they are useful for all aspects of life.

  4. Robomum

    Taught at school and reinforced at home. Like everything.
    Technology is still a new thing, particularly for many of my students who are NESB and new arrivals. So many of their parents have no idea and therefore would be unable to ‘teach’ their kids.
    This program sounds good.

    1. Martine

      Good point. It is easy to forget sometimes that there are many parents who really don’t have a lot of idea about online life and that not everyone is using technology the same way.

  5. EssentiallyJess

    Honestly, I think it’s the parent’s responsibility. Understanding when you child has the emotional and social maturity to navigate social media sites is a parents job, not the schools. It can’t be about a particular age, but about the particular child.

    1. Martine

      I agree Jess that it should be the parents responsibility first and foremost, but I guess like anything there are always going to be some parents who have a better grasp on it than others. I am all for advocating that parents get in as early as they can at home so as the child has a better chance at regulating their own behaviour and learning the specifics as they get older.

  6. Beck/craftypjmum

    I believe that it should be the responsibility first of the parents but should also be followed up in schools. Since computers and the internet are now an every day tool used in the classroom, it makes sense that lessons should be included in the curriculum to ensure both our children’s safety and behavior while using these tools.

  7. I think it’s definitely something that we as parents should be starting from a very young age, that can then be backed up by these types of excellent programmes once they get to school. In this day and age you’re never too young to start learning about and practising cybersafety.

  8. Grace

    I think it’s a combination of both parents and schools to teach about cyberspace, with more of an onus on the family.
    But a program like this would definitely hold lots of benefits!

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