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‘There is no point in schools blocking porn,’ e-safety expert says

Instead, talk to youngsters about the dangers of the online world

There is no point in schools blocking pornography as nearly all of them can access inappropriate content on their mobile phones or tablets anywa Photo: PHILIP HOLLIS

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There is no point in schools blocking pornography as nearly all of them can access inappropriate content on their mobile phones or tablets anyway, an e-safety expert has warned.

Karl Hopwood, who talks to private heads about how to tackle online risks for their pupils, says teachers should instead engage with youngsters about the dangers of accessing certain content online.

His warnings came ahead of a seminar on e-safety organised by the Boarding Schools Association with the aim to train staff and in turn students with strategies to stay safe online.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Mr Hopwood, who is a former teacher, said: “Blocking pornography is no longer the answer. Schools have to do that and of course that’s right but that doesn’t mean students won’t be able to access or come across inappropriate stuff.”

Historically, he said, schools were expected to filter out content when the Internet first came along. However, the way students interact with technology these days has shifted dramatically.

He added: “Most of the schools that I work in it is 90 per cent of children who have access to tablet devices and mobile devices, which is great, but schools have to recognise that they are not able to control the content on those in the same way that they can from their Wi-Fi and their fixed broadband.

“For that reason, we have to talk young people about why we want to protect them from certain types content.”

He said conversations around online safety often times were not addressed in the right way by teachers. He said: “If we are transparent with young people about some of the content and how it could be harmful, we are likely to make more of an impact.”

Mr Hopwood said it was now the norm for youngsters to engage in conversations with strangers online. He said: “Way over 50 percent of students freely admit to me that they are talking to strangers. They have to be aware of the risks when they are talking to someone online because they can’t be sure who it is or what their intentions are.”

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