Pupils to be taught about social media dangers in school

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The dangers of social media will be taught to school children from the age of four under new plans from education secretary Damian Hinds.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Hinds said that social media represents a danger to youngsters and learning about it will protect them from harm.

“Many of today’s problems didn’t exist when we last gave schools guidance on how to teach relationships and sex education 18 years ago,” he said.

“It’s high time we updated these subjects, which are so important in helping young people become happy, well-rounded and better able to deal with the challenges of the modern world.”

In recent years schools have become increasingly concerned about the impact that social media and smartphones have had on the interactions between pupils.

In June, the French parliament tabled a bill to ban pupils from using smartphones in school altogether. 

Hinds said that a consultation would be launched this week on the government’s new draft guidance on how to teach relationships and sex education at school.

The Department for Education previously said sex and relationships education would be made compulsory in all of England’s schools, with statutory guidance updated as part of the move amid concerns that the current advice was out-of-date and failed to address modern-day issues such as cyber-bullying, sexting and online safety.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the advice will include children aged four to 11 being taught a set of rules and principles to protect themselves online, as well learning why computer games and social media sites have age restrictions.

Hinds said the government had a responsibility to help schools protect children from the dangers of the internet, adding: “As a society, we can’t switch off the internet and nor would we want to.

“But we must make sure that everyone, especially children, can navigate the virtual world, as well as knowing when it’s time to step away and make the most of the real one.”

In May, digital secretary Matt Hancock said that the government will be introducing laws to ensure that “the UK is the safest place in the world to be online”, although these laws may be years away from introduction. 

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