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Teach children about the perils of social media from four, says Damian Hinds

Embargoed to 0001 Saturday March 18 File photo dated 4/3/2017 of a child's hands on the keys of a laptop keyboard. Children should be taught in schools how to recognise "fake news", a leading international education expert has said. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Saturday March 18, 2017. In a modern digital age, schools need to teach pupils how to think critically and analyse what they read on social media and news sites, according to Andreas Schleicher, the OECD's director of education and skills. See PA story EDUCATION FakeNews. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

School children will be taught about the dangers of social media from the age of four to help them deal with the "challenges of the modern world", the Education Secretary has said.

Damian Hinds said he believed educating youngsters to recognise online perils was one of the most important ways of protecting them from harm.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he announced a consultation would be launched this week on the Government's new draft guidance on how to teach relationships and sex education at school.

The Department for Education previously said sex and relationships education would be made compulsory in all of England's schools, with statutory guidance updated as part of the move amid concerns that the current advice was out-of-date and failed to address modern-day issues such as cyber-bullying, sexting and online safety.

Mr Hinds said: "Many of today's problems didn't exist when we last gave schools guidance on how to teach relationships and sex education 18 years ago.

"It's high time we updated these subjects, which are so important in helping young people become happy, well-rounded and better able to deal with the challenges of the modern world."

According to the paper, the advice will include children aged four to 11 being taught a set of rules and principles to protect themselves online, as well learning why computer games and social media sites have age restrictions.

Mr Hinds said the Government had a responsibility to help schools protect children from the dangers of the internet, adding: "As a society, we can't switch off the internet and nor would we want to.

"But we must make sure that everyone, especially children, can navigate the virtual world, as well as knowing when it's time to step away and make the most of the real one."

Pic by Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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