INCREASED risks of cyberbullying and poor internet safety techniques could become a cause for concern as Glasgow City Council continues its digital inclusion strategy.

An update on the scheme which was developed with public, private, academic and voluntary sector partners across the city, and launched in November 2018 was presented to the city administration committee recently.

In Glasgow’s schools, there has been a major upgrade of connectivity to all primary and secondary schools telecommunications infrastructure, with over 25,000 iPads now delivered to Glasgow school children through the Connected Learning programme, with plans for the delivery of the remaining 25,000 being accelerated in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Over 3,600 Wi-Fi hotspots have now been installed in schools, and Apple TV has been fitted in classrooms, allowing teachers and pupils to project wirelessly to digital screens.

Councillor Kim Long said: “I have an ongoing concern that giving out an iPad to every single pupil, doesn’t solve the problem and can potentially create further difficulties. One of the things that has been limited throughout Covid is the teaching of online safety and safeguarding.

“I guess that’s a concern as well if more and more potentially vulnerable people are getting access to the internet but without the skills or the confidence to keep themselves and others safe online. Has this issue been looked at?”

The councillor was informed that measures had been taken to ensure young people had the right skills when it came to navigating internet safety.

Dr Colin Birchenall responded: “It used to be that we would provide them with a PC in a public area which would be filtered so we would protect them online because they wouldn’t be able to access anything that we didn’t want them to.

“That was too much of a constraint for young people so they wouldn’t use the equipment and they would go out and put themselves in physical danger.

“So, the approach that has been taken is to flip that model. We now use digital resilience which is rather than trying to protect them by restricting their access we have to provide young people with the skills to be safe online.

“That’s part of the essential digital skills training. It’s not just about how you use technology it’s also about how you are safe online.”

Councillor Long also asked if there was a maintenance budget for schools when it came to the upkeep of the technology.

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She wanted to know what steps would be put in place to ensure children had access to their Glow account when it came to online learning.

Dr Birchenall added: “In terms of iPads in schools, there is maintenance in place for them and arrangements to support the teachers with technical issues.

“I think it is worth highlighting that there has been a huge effort within the education services team in terms of how digital is used within the classroom and outside it to deliver the curriculum.”