The Department for Education (DfE) says: 'children and young people's mental health is a priority for the Department and we recognise the importance of supporting parents and schools to help children use social media safely.' (17 October 2016).
To provide information to parents (and teachers) who are concerned about mental health DfE funded MindEd to set up a dedicated website, MindEd for Families. The website launched in early 2016 and provides free online advice on a range of mental health issues affecting children and young people. It includes a section on social media.
Teachers can also find advice and training about mental health issues on the main MindEd website (which was funded by the Department of Health).
DfE states: 'we are also continuing to provide funding to the YoungMinds parents helpline; a national service providing free, confidential online and
One of the risks to mental health from social media use is cyberbullying. In response to this, DfE has produced online guidance for parents and teachers on how to tackle these issues. The guidance contains advice and signpost further sources of detailed information and support – including tips for talking to children about social media use.
DfE has also recently announced £4.4 million in funding for 10 projects to tackle bullying in schools. One of these is developing an online approach for reporting bullying, including cyberbullying on social media.
To reflect the importance of keeping children safe online, e-safety is covered at all key stages in the computing curriculum. Children are taught:
- how to use technology safely and respectfully
- how to keep personal information private
- where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet, or other online technologies.
Schools are also able to teach pupils about the use of social media and to learn strategies for keeping physically and emotionally safe, including safety online, as part of their Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education programme of study.
The Department has issued statutory guidance 'Keeping children safe in education'
This flags up the potential safeguarding issues that school staff should be aware of, including online safety. The guidance sets out the role all school staff have in safeguarding children and the actions staff should take if they have a concern about a child.
As part of their induction, all school staff should be provided safeguarding training, which should be regularly updated.
Although written with US students in mind, the Cyberbullying Guide to Parents by virtual private network (VPN) reviewer WizCase contains some useful help and advice about how to identify and address this growing issue.