Whatever we think of our children's use of social media, we have to acknowledge that it is, or soon will be, part of their everyday lives. And so, teaching social media responsibility is becoming more important, both at home and in school. By embedding it into their daily learning, we can arm our children with the knowledge they need to navigate these platforms safely - and this is where Natterhub comes in. Read on to find out what a difference Natterhub has made to the way online safety is taught in school, and what teachers think of our innovative online safety learning tool.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok can be wonderful places to connect with friends and share interests and experiences, but they also have a darker side. Misinformation and fake news, cyberbullying, grooming, sharing of inappropriate information… the list of dangers seems endless. So it's crucial to help children understand these risks and what it means to be responsible online, in order to make sure they have a happy and healthy digital life.
But how do we go about teaching social media responsibility to kids without banning tech, deleting apps, or dictating rules in a way that will encourage our children to rally against them? Simply telling them not to do something won't work. The answer is to have open conversations about using social media, to integrate e-safety into their learning, and teach it in the same way as any other life skill. In this way, thinking about e-safety and being responsible online, will become as much a part of children's daily life as the apps they are using.
Online safety is not a statutory subject in its own right, but schools are expected to follow the DfE's 'Teaching Online Safety in Schools' guidelines and embed it into existing curriculum subjects, such as PSHE, ICT and citizenship education. However, as of September 2020 schools do have a statutory requirement to teach elements of Relationships, Sex and Health Education (RSHE) and this relates closely to life online as well as offline, i.e. building respectful relationships with family and friends, staying healthy both physically and mentally and understanding where to get support.
In addition, schools are advised to refer to the Education for a Connected World Framework, which provides age-specific guidance on the online knowledge and skills that pupils should have the opportunity to learn at different stages of their development. Schools can focus on teaching social media responsibility as just a part of this wider online safety learning journey.
There have been lots of changes to the compulsory requirements around online safety in schools over recent years, and working out how to fit new guidance into the curriculum can be time-consuming for teachers who already have a very busy workload. Natterhub has changed the way online safety is taught in schools by providing an innovative new approach to learning, which has children at its core and can save teachers valuable planning time.
Natterhub provides an experiential learning platform that delivers a series of engaging lessons covering a vast range of online topics in line with national curriculum aims. Children learn better by 'doing' which is why it offers a hands-on approach to learning that looks and feels just like social media. Children and teachers can post and interact with lessons, and each other, via a newsfeed and their accomplishments are acknowledged through 'badges' they receive after they've completed each lesson. What better way to approach teaching social media responsibility than by actively engaging children within their own safe, social media platform?
Here are some examples of Natterhub's lessons around being responsible on social media:
We spoke to some of Natterhub's schools to find out what's important to them when using our innovative learning platform to support their teaching of social media responsibility. Here are our some of our teachers' key priorities:
The thought of introducing a new learning support programme can be daunting for teachers - it can involve more training, learning new skills, more set-up, and more time taken away from actual teaching. But Natterhub is different. It has been developed with input from teachers, and with children in mind, to create an easy-to-use, experiential learning platform to make teaching social media responsibility and digital citizenship simpler, and more enjoyable.
The teachers at St Faith's Church of England Infant and Nursery School, Lincoln, have been using Natterhub since its launch back in April 2020. They told us Natterhub "has made teaching simpler by having only one resource for teaching PSHE and e-safety. It's easy-to-follow lessons, with straightforward lesson plans and notes, help aid discussions."
In addition, teacher Mohini Bahal from Brookhouse School in Nairobi, Kenya has benefited from Natterhub's intuitive learning tool. She says: "It is an easy platform to use and the staff at Natterhub have been amazing in helping with any questions that I have had and that is also what has made it easier".
And it's simple for children to use too, as Dave Harrison, teacher at North London Collegiate School agrees: "the Natterhub platform is very easy to use because it has been designed for children. They’ve found it easy to use and navigate to complete activities, such as creating their avatars and participating and commenting during the lessons".
Another factor our teachers highlighted is Natterhub's ability to create a child-led learning environment that, in terms of functionality and design, keeps children's needs at the forefront. Natterhub is a place where children can learn at their own pace, control their own progress, contribute to discussion and learn independently - and kids really respond to this.
CT & Digital lead Geoff Wood from Maidwell Primary School in Northampton told us they chose Natterhub because it was "a child-friendly platform designed with children in mind" and exactly what they were looking for to support them during the lockdown when children were spending more time on screens. He loves the fact that children are motivated to learn about social media, by using a form of social media. He said: "What’s great about the badges is that you can reward both academic work and also for kindness to friends, so you are really encouraging good use of social media at the same time."
And likewise, Swallownest Primary School in Sheffield loves the independent learning aspect of the tool. Computing Lead Jess says: "Each lesson starts with tinker time where the children are allowed to explore the application we are using in that lesson. In my opinion this is the best way that children learn as they are allowed to discuss and problem solve in their own time and the learning is usually much easier remembered as the children have explored it themselves".
And we've had some great feedback from kids too. The pupils from North London Collegiate School love Natterhub because "it’s for us!".
Natterhub features a wealth of content, tailored to suit each year group. This ensures that lessons that support teaching about social media responsibility are perfectly in tune with each stage of development, and allow children to build on their learning as they move through primary school - from lessons on being kind in Year 1, to more complex issues such as dealing with manipulative content in Year 6. This is an important factor for teachers, as having age-appropriate content at their fingertips can save time and effort, and ensure lessons are aligned with curriculum aims.
Katie Hitchcox, a class teacher at Hall Grove School in Surrey said: "It's clear that the visuals, language choices and subject matter of each lesson has been carefully crafted to be appropriate to each year group… it looks fantastic and easy to use. The children’s engagement is extremely high and the interactive lessons are excellent".
And Mere Brow CE Primary School in Preston know Natterhub's focus on age-appropriate content as something Ofsted will be impressed by. Jess Rowe, Assistant Head, said: "We also think this will be an exceptional tool to show Ofsted how online safety and digital literacy are embedded and year appropriate, so that the children are confident".
There's no denying that teachers are under pressure and planning time is already at a premium. So finding a support tool that is quick and efficient to save time and effort is top of the agenda when it comes to integrating online safety smoothly into the curriculum.
Ana Bagaric from Garden House School was delighted with how much time and effort Natterhub can save. She says: "it looks amazing and I love it. It will save so much work for teachers". And Kristian Horne from Bromstone Primary School in Broadstairs agrees it is "a very well-thought-out programme. It eliminates a lot of admin and faff".
And some of our teachers have found the planning and assessment elements have been a great time-saver too. Sarah Hall from Hartside Primary School told us: "the assessment allows me to see which children were in what lessons. As a subject lead it supports my overall picture of school progress" and Brookhouse School agreed: "this is going to be a great dashboard for me and my staff, in particular the planning and schemes of work".
Natterhub allows children to practise social media in a safe environment - which is great for teaching social media responsibility before children venture onto real social media platforms. It allows children to explore their understanding of social media safely, learn from mistakes without consequences, and gives them the knowledge they need to deal with real-life scenarios, which they can then apply to their future life online.
Teachers at Frensham Heights School in Surrey told us how they "chatted about how children experiencing ‘social media’ for themselves would develop their skills tenfold compared to other more abstract resources available". And Swallownest Primary School also agreed they "love the fact that Natterhub replicates real life social media in a safe environment. [Children's] understanding of the online world has greatly improved, and it has provided many opportunities to have great discussions about their lives online".
But don't just take our schools' word for it. If you are interested in teaching social media responsibility in school, or you want to find out more about how Natterhub can help support your digital literacy lessons, why not book a demo?
For more information about our fun and engaging online safety lessons click here.
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