Education secretary Damain Hinds has announced that children as young as four will be taught about the dangers of social media.
Social media is very popular among children, even those not old enough to use it legally, and is a place where they can meet up and laugh with their friends, but it is also one of the leading enablers of cyberbullying. A study from the UK anti-bullying organisation Ditch The Label shows that one in five teenagers are bullied online, Instagram being the main network of choice for the cyberbullies. A further investigation showed that only 25 per cent of the bullied quit using social media, whereas the other 75 per cent continued using it, and the problems persisted.
The government's aim is to train children from an early age to avoid the problems many teens suffer from today. It will begin consulting this week on new plans to provide guidance to teachers on educating children from the age of four as to how to protect themselves online.
Hinds wrote in the Daily Telegraph that the government must play a larger role in helping to protect children from the darker side of the internet.
"Alongside parents, of course schools must still play a role in protecting children - and government also has a responsibility to help them," he said.
"In fact, one of the most important ways of protecting children is to educate them so they can learn to recognise potential dangers for themselves."
Hinds also said social media companies have a moral responsibility to protect youngsters, adding that merely saying a site is meant for adults is "not an excuse".
However, his opinion differed somewhat from that of Matt Hancock, then culture secretary, who said all phones should be banned during school hours.
"In recent weeks, there have been calls for blanket bans on phones in schools to deal with these issues. I support any head teacher who imposes one. But I firmly believe that it is for the head teacher - the person who knows the pupils, the parents and the school - to make that decision, rather than a politician telling them to do so," Hinds wrote.
After September 2019, according to the government's plans, it will be mandatory to provide education on sex and relationships to all schoolchildren. Clauses on the use of devices and social media will be added following the consultation period.
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