4 E's of Cyber Safety and Digital Wellbeing
A Strategic Vision
There are four essential elements to any holistic approach to cyber safety: Environment; Education; Engagement and Ensuring. Each school system has a duty of care to protect the safety of students. There is a plethora of advice, models, and frameworks for identifying safety issues, and implementing risk management systems. These can range from targeting particular risk areas to holistic approaches which attempt to address all risks. Consequently, not only may there be competing issues and values at play, there can be a complexity of interrelated and overlapping advice, strategies and approaches. Within all this, cyber safety and establishing a concise strategic direction and vision for cyber safety could be lost. The 4 E’s of cyber safety and Digital Wellbeing: Environment; Education; Engagement and Ensuring, are four clear foundational concepts that should be within any strategic approach to cyber safety, thus they should complement, not replace, any approaches to safety in schools by providing direction, reason and understanding for cyber safety and wellbeing actions.
A community response for a community issue
The environment element refers to the organisation culture, the provision of policies, and a working framework and mechanisms for a protective online culture. The cyber safety and digital wellbeing environment includes 4 functional areas: the school management level (policies and the support network for students); the school framework and ICT approach (day to day ICT e.g. physical hardware set up and (security); the operational level (e.g. day to day filtering and responses to incidents); and the interactions with the home environment.
Approaches to cyber safety in schools should include a cyber safety education strategy for school community stakeholders: students, parents, and staff. A curriculum based approach is required to mitigate cyber safety risks and protect students in the class room. Additionally education for ‘Digital Citizenship’ (responsibilities online, personal safety online, social media literacy, and digital ethics), increasing user responsibility with devices and internet usage is scaffolded by education packages that are tailored for grade/age appropriateness.
The education of students is a key focus of any school’s cyber safety actions, however, this can be undermined if the school’s strategy does not address the other E elements or ensure all stakeholders are educated and engaged.
The cyber safety engagement strategy will be specific to cyber safety and have three engagement strategies: proactive actions; reactive actions; and long term. Proactive actions can include: planned parent and community engagement session; regular engagement and communications with the school community through website, blog and newsletter messages; follow up with staff to ensure they are using current and relevant material; providing professional development for teachers;in community events
(i.e. internet safety day); and raising awareness of online reporting mechanism (for staff, parents and students). Reactive actions can include: sessions for parent and community engagement on or in response to specific issues; engaging external agencies (police etc.); warning fliers; and/or school wide response sessions to incidents. Long term the attributing factors to succeeding in the development of digital citizenship is the support of parents and school policies. Strategies are needed to engage community stakeholders in identifying cyber safety issues responses and development of organisational culture supportive of cyber safety.
Ensuring is the fourth foundational cyber safety concept. Ensuring relates to the processes in place to ensure no student is suffering or needs assistance, as well as meeting accountability and risk mitigation obligations (student, staff and legal) of the schools. This element is focused on monitoring, reporting (including regulatory reporting for student protection) and reviews. This includes systematic and regular reviews each term, as well as a major review each year (of policies and to identify possible issues for the following year).
Reviews should include: all cyber safety policies, guidelines and tools; cyber safety response guidelines on action to be taken; school uses of social media; lines of responsibility in school; school ICT process and technology; blog, newsletters and fliers processes; school Net filtering; online reporting mechanism, class room sessions; training and professional development of staff, and the school physical grounds.
The 4 E’s of Cyber Safety and Digital Wellbeing was created in April 2017 for the Anglican Schools Commission Southern Queensland’s Cyber Safety Champions Network. Updated in May 2018 and August 2018.