Resource material for the IT PGCE:
issues in using the Internet in schools

This page contains background information for the session in which we discuss the issues involved in using the Internet with children. It should be read before the session.


Learning objectives  
Task Issues in children using the Internet
Ways of restricting access Sources of advice
Teaching point References

Learning Objectives

The learning objectives for this session are that by the end you should:

  1. understand the issues involved when children use the internet in schools;
  2. know a variety of ways in which schools can address these issues;
  3. know where you can find out more information on these issues.

Return to the top of this pageReturn to top of this page


The context for our examination of issues involved in using the Internet with children will be the drawing up of a school policy. When we meet at 2:00 we will split into groups and each group will have one hour to draft its policy (given the time constraints this will be an outline only). At 3:30 we will all meet together to discuss the issues raised in the groups and similarities and differences in the solutions found.

Return to the top of this pageReturn to top of this page

Issues in children using the Internet

There are a number of issues that you will need to consider in drawing up your policy - and to which it should make explicit reference. These can be summarised as:

1. children finding sites you think they should not have access to;

2. children downloading inappropriate material from the net - including copyright material (e.g. MP3 files);

3. children giving out inappropriate information about themselves e.g. via chat rooms;

4. children posting inappropriate information about themselves on personal web-pages - or their teachers doing so on school web sites.

Return to the top of this pageReturn to top of this page

Restricting access

If you (or your school or the children's parents) are worried about children searching the web in an unrestricted way then you could consider using the children's version of AskJeeves AskJeeves for Kids. While this is an excellent site, you may pause to consider why you are using it. Most providers of Internet services to schools (e.g. Research Machines, LEAs) filter or block sites anyway and for many children the 'thrill' of looking up forbidden sites is precisely that they are forbidden. If the children are really engaged in the activity set for them, then it occupies their attention.

Like search engines, filters operate in three ways:

  1. by only letting through those sites which have been preselected (most draconian);
  2. by only blocking those sites which have been designated as unsuitable (least draconian);
  3. by searching sites and blocking those containing 'unsuitable' material (totally random). At one time or another these sites have blocked access to any site mentioning Scunthorpe, Arsenal and the on-line product of a researcher's lifetime work - complete lists of the homophones and homographs in the English language.

One increasingly used alternative is for the teacher to pre-select the sites to be used in a lesson and then download them on to the school server so that while the children think they are using the net they never get beyond the school site.

Return to the top of this pageReturn to top of this page

Sources of advice

The Ambleside site has a 'keeping safe on the Internet' section which is worth reading. It also has a page arguing the benefits of using the Internet in schools.

The NGfL has a resource and the DfEE a "Superhighway Safety" page, both of which offer advice on this issue and links to related sites.

Return to the top of this pageReturn to top of this page

Teaching Point

The issues described above could be translated into a series of 'don'ts'. But presenting it in this way would be a mistake. Children have an enthusiasm for using the Internet and the skill is in harnessing this enthusiasm and directing it into useful ways, rather than squashing it with a set of heavy handed 'do not do...'. If you can construct a series of tasks that the children find interesting and relevant then they are much less likely to spend their time trying to do other things.

Return to the top of this pageReturn to top of this page


In addition to the NGfL and DfEE material mentioned above, see chapter 4 of 'Learning to Teach Using ICT in the Secondary School' edited by Marylin Leask and Norbert Pachler (Institute library reference Loyx Ref LEA), which discusses the use of the Internet as a teaching and learning tool.

Return to the top of this pageReturn to top of this page

The IT PGCE Home PageBack to PGCE Information Technology Home Page
Back to Institute of Education Home PageBack to Institute of Education Home Page

This page is maintained by Tim Brosnan. Please send any comments to:
Last updated on 14th June 2001.