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e-Safety and the momo challenge hoax

Parents and teachers were all on high alert last month when news broke of the momo challenge. The reports suggested someone was hacking into children’s phones and encouraging dangerous and harmful behaviour including self-harm. The story soon spread virally as concern grew, but a closer look at the situation showed that the whole story was a hoax. This comes as a relief to many, but the problem of identifying real threats remains – when you’re a parent or a teacher, it’s worth being careful of such warnings, but that does make you very vulnerable to hoax stories such as this.

Given the understandable worry and accompanying publicity that this story caused, it won’t be the last time that such a scenario will emerge. It can be hard to separate the hoaxes from the real threats, but the way to stay safe online isn’t to worry over every news story or potential threat, but to develop cyber security practices which mean that whether the next threat is real or a hoax, you know you’re protected.

We do a lot of work with schools on cyber security. We provide filtering tools for our broadband services which means schools can protect and monitor internet usage within the school. It’s even possible to see the detail down to individual users so that it’s easy to identify and support any children who may be vulnerable, either to cyber bullying or targeted for another online threat.

As well as the added functionality for safeguarding and content monitoring within the school’s internet access, we provide tools with a broad range of security products. However, the most important way that we help to protect schools is through comprehensive, free training that is regularly updated with the latest developments. The key to good security is to build it into your working practices and train staff to be part of the solution. There’s no point in installing the best firewall money can buy if someone has clicked on a virus in an email. It’s useful to monitor the internet usage of children in the school but you need to know what to search for and how to identify issues.

This is also good news for parents, who may not have the advantage of the same sophisticated IT tools available to schools. The most important thing is to make sure you know what your child is watching and interacting with online. Of course, you don’t want to terrify your children, but make them aware that there are dangers online – or even just remind them that they might lose access to their favourite games if a virus corrupts their IT device!

We work with Safety Net to deliver online training sessions for parents, teaching professionals and young people. As well as access to the online resources, bespoke sessions for a school can also be arranged involving assemblies, classes or workshops as required. Whether you’re a teacher or a concerned parent, such a session might help you feel a little more prepared when the next internet craze or security threat emerges.