UK Gov’t Makes It Compulsory to Include Internet Safety as Part of Primary Education Curriculum
The UK Department of Education announced in July 2019 that beginning this 2019-2020 school year, schools will include content about internet safety, with particular focus on “fake news,” as part of their health education curriculum. Primary education will introduce relationships and sex education for pupils, alongside Internet safety and their importance to physical and mental well being.
According to the UK Department of Education, the government aims to teach every child about confirmation bias or that particular inclination to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing theories and beliefs and the risks it poses. Thereby making it compulsory for schools to include such matters in their education curriculum.
In line with those goals, the Department of Education will furnish schools with a new set of safety guidelines designed to enable children to distinguish the difference between disinformation and misinformation, as well as to develop in them the ability to recognise and respond effectively to “fake news.”
Teachers therefore are expected to help pupils learn how to evaluate content they view online. Their tasks include helping students recognise persuasion techniques, and identify potential risks. Moreover, teachers will be tasked to give children guidance on when and how to seek support.
Education on Internet Safety in Schools Conceptualised Under Former Education Secretary Damian Hinds
It is worth mentioning that initiatives to include Internet safety and its potential risks, came under the leadership of former Education Secretary Damian Hinds. Prior to the end of his term, Secretary Hinds attended a summit tackling issues concerning social media and possible online harms.
He warned that the spread of so-called “fake news” can quickly erode the reputations of companies and institutions, and even the very core of liberal democracy. He remarked that manipulations of truth were undertaken by state propagandists even during ancient times. The former Education Secretary expounded on this matter by stating that the difference with today is that the Internet age has made disinformation techniques available to a broad range of Internet users.
When used in combination with social media networks along with the effects and power of “Likes”, the spread of disinformation through “fake news” can be self-propelling.
Secretary Hinds stressed the importance of teaching primary age students on how to differentiate between disinformation and misinformation by remarking
“What starts as disinformation or deliberate falsification, gets replicated by way of misinformation by stating or passing on online content believed to be true but is not.”