Teaching online safety in a post-COVID world

Caroline Allams

Caroline Allams started her career in the UK and has subsequently taught in international schools in Amsterdam and Barcelona, before becoming Assistant Headteacher at Kellett School in Hong Kong. 

Caroline is the founder of the 30+ award winning classroom resource provider The Pedagogs and most recently Natterhub, which she co-founded with Manjit Sareen. Powered by TwinklHive, Natterhub is a school-safe, gated social media site for primary aged children to learn the genre of social media. Based on the feedback so far, Natterhub looks set to start the revolutionary ball rolling by modernising the pedagogy used in the primary classroom to reflect the skills needed to thrive in a connected society.

Website: www.natterhub.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The COVID-19 epidemic has fundamentally changed the way we use the internet. According to Ofcom, we’re spending on average an hour longer on the internet every day than we did in 2018. This has been especially true for children, who’ve relied on video calls and online games and lessons as a way to continue learning, socialising and playing. 

Teachers up and down the country have done amazing work helping their pupils to continue to learn from home. They’ve given lessons in their back gardens and kitchens, written songs and conducted science experiments, and even cycled hundreds of miles each week to visit their pupils and deliver lunches! 

However, whilst greater connectivity brings all sorts of benefits to children, it also brings with it greater risks.. Some children find it hard to put their screens down: 45% of children who own a device take it to bed with them! Along with possible disturbances to sleep or mental wellbeing, there’s always the worry that children might be interacting with harmful content or people, or seeing something not designed for their age range.. 

Young people are certainly aware of the potential pitfalls of their devices - according to a report by the Cybersmile Foundation, 35% of young people feel that the internet and social media is having a negative impact on their health. However, around 33% also feel that their parents and teachers wouldn’t be able to help if they came to them with a problem. 

With this in mind, it’s a relief to know that the UK curriculum is being adjusted and refined to reflect our increasingly online world, with a much-needed emphasis on online safety. However, it’s difficult for teachers to cover such a complex topic by simply talking at the front of a classroom. We need to make sure schools are properly equipped to provide pupils with the skills they need to thrive online, and that children feel more comfortable talking to the trusted adults in their lives. 

This is why I decided to create Natterhub: a gated social media platform designed to teach children about online safety in an interactive, experiential way. Providing children with a space in which they can better understand their own emotional state, and their relationships with the people around them, will make them more resilient and empathetic - both online and offline. Showing them concrete examples of the internet in action, with examples of both appropriate and inappropriate behaviour, will make them more digitally savvy. As Professor John Hattie, a leader in the field of metacognition, puts it: “We need to develop an awareness of what we are doing, where we are going, and how are we going there.” 

As a teacher, I fervently believe in mimicry as a compelling route for learning, and that social media and its powerful potential needs to be explicitly modelled to avoid the pitfalls. When we give pupils real reasons to learn and opportunities that relate most closely with real life experiences, pupils will reflect on their own behaviour, resulting in learning that is deeper and more impactful. 

Imagine the excitement when, last year, we ventured up to Sheffield to chat our idea through with Twinkl. We share their mission to ‘help those who teach’ and at Natterhub, we are dedicated to ‘help those who learn’. With over twenty years of school/business experience, and four children between us, Manjit and I continue to share our commitment to supporting children with crucial online life skills which will support them during, and for years beyond, school. Natterhub is now powered by TwinklHive. We launched two months ago, and with over 1000 users in over 30 countries, Natterhub’s voice is starting to be heard! Online safety issues transcend borders or socio-economic boundaries, and social networks use a universal language. With Twinkl’s support, we look forward to scaling Natterhub as it is relevant to all school curricula, anywhere in the world. 

The world has changed as a result of the pandemic. Now more than ever we depend on screens as a means to conduct both personal and professional relationships, and the genre of social media, digital communication and intelligence needs a greater profile in our children’s school life. Natterhub enables teachers to seamlessly weave both knowledge and application into classroom practice. We’ve recently been described as a ‘zeitgeist product’, and we are thrilled that Natterhub is empowering children to thrive online.

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"