Teachers across Australia face a wide range of challenges every day, and many of these challenges occur outside the four walls of a classroom. These types of challenges tend to mirror those that their students are living, and can include supporting student wellbeing and helping them participate responsibly online. Teachers are out there helping students through these issues – but these, more often than not, fall outside their area of expertise.
In an effort to help teachers overcome the challenges both inside and outside the classroom, recently we hosted a series of Jacaranda Learning Expo events across Australia. At these events, we demonstrated how Jacaranda’s range of 7-10 teaching and learning resources can help teachers engage students, achieve differentiation, and manage the range of abilities within their classes.
We also broached the common issue that many Australian schools face: educating students on their use of the internet. To help us do this, we invited Dr. Michael Carr-Gregg, one of Australia’s leading child and adolescent psychologists, to speak on managing student wellbeing and cybersafety in the classroom and beyond. After the events we had a chance to speak to many teachers and were delighted to hear they found Michael’s presentation engaging, relevant and practical. That’s why we’ve decided to share some of his key tips with you.
Michael’s 3 key takeaways for teachers
- Create a culture of kindness
- Zero-tolerance policy of bullying – online and offline
- Developing some form of cybersafety education in schools
The Australian eSafety Commissioner’s 3 core principles
The Australian eSafety Commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, outlines 3 core principles that responsible digital citizens should practise:
- Engage positively
- Know your online world
- Choose consciously
Below we have outlined how Michael suggests students can implement these principles to become responsible digital citizens.
1. Engage positively
When you engage positively, you are exercising your rights and responsibilities as a digital citizen, while respecting the rights of others. When students are online they can engage positively by:
- Respecting the rights of others to participate and have an opinion.
- Asking before tagging other people or posting photos.
- Reporting offensive or illegal content.
- Standing up and speaking out about cyberbullying — protect your friends.
- Don’t respond to hurtful or nasty comments — block and report.
- Speaking to their parents or a trusted adult about upsetting online experiences.
- Reporting threats of violence to the police (collect the evidence to show them).
2. Know your online world
Students have the skills and knowledge to participate in the online world with confidence, although this confidence doesn’t necessarily mean they really know the risks of the online world. Students can better understand the online world by:
- Learning new skills will help explore the online world.
- Recognising online risks and how to manage them.
- Looking out for suspicious emails and scams.
- Using secure websites for financial and retail services.
- Keeping passwords secret, strong, and unique.
- Knowing how to report bullying behaviour on social media sites.
3. Choose consciously
Students should be aware that they are in control of the decisions they make online. They can choose consciously by:
- Thinking before sharing personal information and understanding the choices you make impulsively can last forever on the internet.
- Choosing privacy and security settings carefully and reviewing them regularly.
- Choosing friends wisely online — not everybody online is who they claim to be. Regularly review your connections and remove people.
- If you have made a mistake, apologise and take down offensive material as soon as possible.
- Asking for permission before uploading pictures of your friends.
The big issues
Michael has identified 8 key issues that teenagers face when participating online. Teachers and their parents should also be aware and understand these online threats. These issues include:
1. Cyber abuse
Is when online communication is seriously threatening, intimidating, harassing, or has a humiliating effect on a person.
Using technology to bully a person or group with the intent to hurt them socially, psychologically, or even physically.
3. Image-based abuse
Occurs when intimate, nude or sexual images are distributed without the consent of those pictured.
4. Offensive or illegal content
Content may be considered ‘prohibited’ ie: violent, explicit or criminal.
Sending of provocative or sexual photos, messages or videos.
6. Social engineering
Using social pressure, deception or threats to influence a person into doing something against their interests.
7. Social networking
There are risks in meeting people online—especially if you don’t know them in real life.
8. Unwanted contact
Any type of online communication that you find unpleasant or confronting.
Michael’s favourite wellbeing apps
Michael believes that mobile phones can be friends, not foes, when used in the right way. As a psychologist and researcher, he speaks with students every day who are seeking help for their wellbeing; and for these young people he likes to utilise the power of mobile phone apps. During the presentation at the Jacaranda Learning Expo event, Michael shared his favourite apps that he recommends to his own clients. Some of these apps are:
Designed to allow users to control everyday stress and anxiety by acting as a ‘physical’ place to store daily worries. It acts as a daily reminder to think about and process what has been stressing you out.
Where the above app helps a user mentally process their worries, ReachOut Breathe helps users deal with the physical symptoms of stress and anxiety. Users are coached on how to slow down their breathing and heart rate to help them feel more relaxed.
This is a meditation app aimed especially for young people. Smiling Mind is designed to coach users on how to achieve calmness, contentment and clarity to help manage their symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and improve health and wellbeing.
Exercise is proven to promote wellbeing, and this app is designed to help users go from the couch to running 5km or 30mins straight within 9 weeks.
Provides ideas for fun and easy things young people can do to cope with a breakup. The app is particularly good at suggesting ways to deal with negative thoughts and increase their social support through outings and activities.
A digital reminder for what medication users need to take and when.
50 million users in how long?
Michael showed our audience an infographic that summarises the time it took for products to reach 50 million users. This infographic provides a powerful visual insight into how products and online apps in the 21st century can skyrocket into popularity quicker and easier than those before it.
The overarching message during this presentation was that although Michael is a true believer in the power of the internet and how it can help promote wellbeing and provide amazing learning opportunities, when children and teenagers use the internet, they face unique risks that need to be understood and managed. The responsibility of managing these threats lies with, not only the young people themselves, but also with their teachers and parents. To manage them, we need to educate young people and ourselves on how to be responsible digital citizens.
The good news is if your school needs help with digital citizenship education – Jacaranda can help.
We have two digital citizenship courses: one for students, Jacaranda Digital Citizenship powered by Cyberpass, and one for teachers and parents, Jacaranda Digital Citizenship Professional Development for teachers. Both courses are tailored to meet the unique knowledge and skill requirements of teachers and students, educating them on what it means and takes to be responsible and safe online. If you’d like to know more about either of these courses please contact your local Jacaranda Sales Consultant.