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Telcos make it easier for schools and parents to keep children safe online

O2 safe schools

© O2/Telefonica

UK mobile operator O2, part of the Telefonica Group, has teamed up with non-profit agency DigitalMe to co-develop its ‘Safe’ programme. Safe is a free programme of practical activities that develop young people’s skills, self-confidence and safety awareness when using social networking sites.

In September 2014, the new Computing Curriculum will become a mandatory part of every child’s education in the UK, offering opportunities for students to develop the skills to participate in the digital world. It will focus on three key aspects of computing competence: computer science, information technology, and digital literacy.

Students will learn about computational thinking, developing the ability to analyse and solve problems and to design systems that bring ideas to life. But it will also place new demands on teachers to develop their knowledge and resources to support its delivery.

The Safe programme was originally developed with support from the Nominet Trust and has already engaged over 3,000 schools in England, helping teachers to deliver the digital literacy aspects of the new Computing Curriculum to children aged 7 plus.

“We know that for many teachers, the refreshed computing curriculum is a chance to build on more traditional ICT lessons in new and exciting ways,” said Tracey Herald, Head of Community at O2. “For others, whilst they understand the value and relevance of computing, they express real concerns about the knowledge, skills and resources required to respond with confidence to the requirements.”

Herald adds that the Safe programme encourages students learn through doing, rather than learning offline, with teachers and students using a secure, moderated online community to undertake practical digital activities to explore their attitudes towards safety, privacy and conduct online. Students are rewarded for successfully completing these ‘digital missions’ through Mozilla Open Badges.

“Digital skills are fast becoming the fourth literacy – as important as reading, writing or maths,” said Herald. “Through the Safe programme, O2 and Nominet hope to support thousands of schools to teach the building blocks of staying safe online, helping children and young people to get the most from the digital world.”

Whilst UK school children still have another month of studies ahead of them, their counterparts in the US are about to break fro their summer vacation. Last October, AT&T partnered with iKeepSafe to release the BEaPRO Parent app, which it describes as an online safety tool. It’s now released a Spanish language version of the app, just in time for National Internet Safety Month.

The Android smartphone app offers tailored advice and resources that provide parents with best practices for teaching their children about online safety. AT&T found that there were six areas that will guide families towards better digital safety (and gave the app its name:

  • B – Balance
  • E – Ethics
  • P – Privacy
  • R – Reputation & Relationships
  • O – Online security

“Our organizations understand the importance of family and how critical your role is to keeping them safe,” said Andrea Brands, Director of Consumer Safety and Empowerment at AT&T, “which is why we worked together to bring you this new resource.”

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