Principled: Safer Internet day


The IB learner profile encourages principled behaviour. This week our Diploma students presented Safer Internet day at ICS. Ben Toettcher recounts the day.

Safer internet day at ICS this week was an important event. Teaching our students how to be safe online is an important part of how we keep our pupils safe from harm. Our Safeguarding policy outlines our approach at ICS. Safer internet day brought that policy to life.

ICS arranged for two Diploma students to present to the Primary school. The hour-long session kicked off with a video on internet safety. The presentation then looked at images and asked the students if they thought the image was real or fake? The split votes showed the students that it is hard to know if an image is real. A second point was whether someone had cropped the image. Students wondered if there was there a bigger picture?

The students then discussed permission in groups. Was it fine to post an image of a friend or someone else without asking their permission? Yes. It is important to ask permission of people in a photo before posting it to a social media channel.

The next part of the session looked at the difference between a bystander and an upstander. The person who walks by or the good Samaritan, someone who helps when another is in trouble. The presenters showed some text messages to the students. They voted for which was the upstander response.

The session ended with a role play. Sam, a university student has a dream. In the dream, Sam sees his past, present and future, like the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Yet the episodes of Sam's life have been recorded online. From the baby shots to the school play, to the graduation and the first job, Sam’s life is on social media. The message again is to be careful. Your profile online is a permanent digital history.

I asked the two diploma presenters how they thought the session went. Although nervous at first, they felt more comfortable having talked to our teachers. They liked the pupil’s enthusiasm for discussing the questions they posed. The presentation also counts toward their IB Diploma.

The secondary school dedicated a whole afternoon to staying safe online. There were five sessions covering various social media platforms, sexting, and smart searching. One session on being aware of sharing images had me intrigued. But I first went to the social media session.

The presenters showed the students how to make your settings more private. This is important as many default settings are set to public. You can tell Facebook whether you want the system to recognise your face in other people’s images. Good to know.

I moved over to the ‘share aware’ session. It was excellent. The Diploma students showed our MYP students a series of pictures. The students thought about what the people in the shot would think if the image was posted online. Even with a staged image, our Diploma students held firm. You always check with the participants before posting online.

The second part of this session used a digital quiz. Students logged in with a laptop or device. They answered eight questions in total. The programme logged correct answers and the time taken for each answer. It was the first time I had participated in a digital quiz. I know the maths department at ICS often start or finish with one and I could see how engaging it was.

The final session was a debate. Our debate team argued whether social media was positive or negative. The negative side claimed that social media weakens authentic social bonds. Cyberstalking is a worry. The misuse of words online can be baffling.

The positive side said that every generation complains about the one following. They don’t have communication skills or don't engage. However, writing something that hundreds of people find interesting is hard. It is a skill young people are learning. And the point was made that it is easy to track harassment online. They thought it important that people have a chance to stand up for their peers. A good habit to learn at school.

The final speakers showed that it comes down to whether you think social media is like a playground or like a gun. No doubt playgrounds have been the place where some bad things have happened. But it is hard to argue that playgrounds be banned. But many societies do want to prohibit gun ownership.

Technology is here to stay. What principles to live by is a lesson teachers have taught their charges since Socrates. This week our diploma students took on that mantle. They were composed in their presentation and thoughtful in their advice. Stay safe; be principled. And if in doubt, come back to the IB Learner Profile.


If you suspect inappropriate behaviour on social media, report it using the CEOP button at the bottom of each page. CEOP stands for Child Exploitation and Online Protection. It is part of the UK National Crime Agency.

Ben Toettcher