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British secondary school teachers spend the equivalent of 11 days’ teaching time every year just dealing with classroom disruptions related to social media and smart devices, according to new research released today by Nominet, the internet company best known for managing the .UK internet infrastructure. Building on last year’s Share with Care campaign, this study aims to highlight the social media issues that are taking place in classrooms across the country.

Classroom disruption

On average, secondary school teachers lose 17.2 minutes of teaching time every day to disruptions caused by social media or smart devices. That equates to 86 minutes every week, and over 11 days of teaching time over the year (assuming five hours of lessons per day, and a 39-week school year).

The disruptions themselves come in many different forms. Almost half (46%) of secondary school teachers have experienced pupils using social media smartphone apps during classes, while four in 10 (40%) have experienced pupils’ confidence being damaged by social media issues. Meanwhile over a quarter (27%) have experienced social media cyber bullying in class and 17% have had pupils sharing explicit or pornographic content. Half of teachers (50%) say that social media issues such as these are contributing to their pupils achieving lower grades than they could.

Resolving social media issues

With so many children on social media platforms, the majority of teachers (58%) have helped to educate their pupils on the associated risks during informal chats or one-to-one tutor time. The most common social media risks they help their pupils deal with are cyber bullying (71%), managing privacy settings (63%), messaging with strangers (63%), profile activity being seen by future employers/universities (58%) and self-esteem issues (56%).

The long term mental impact of social media is a particular cause for concern, with more than half of teachers (57%) saying social media has negatively affected their pupils’ mental health. In addition, three quarters (76%) agree that social media is making children grow up faster, and almost two-thirds (64%) say their pupils struggle to cope with social media pressure.

But many teachers don’t feel equipped to provide the best help. Almost a quarter (24%) said they don’t have the right skills to assist their pupils with these issues, slightly more than those who say that they “definitely” have the right skills (23%). Over half (52%) consider themselves “somewhat” equipped to help.

Are school policies helping?

Teachers aren’t facing social media issues in isolation though, as the vast majority of schools (83%) now have social media/device policies in place. However more than four in 10 teachers at these schools (42%) say these policies are difficult to enforce. More can also be done to help keep these policies relevant. Many social media trends can emerge in a matter of days or weeks, yet one in 10 schools have either never updated their social media policy or update it less often than once every year.

However, teachers themselves have ideas as to how things could improve. Almost three-quarters (72%) think smartphones should be banned from the classroom completely, while almost two-thirds (63%) think schools need dedicated staff to deal with social media and internet issues. However, the biggest difference could actually be made at home, with more than eight in 10 teachers (84%) saying that parents need to do more to help their children understand social media risks.

A silver lining…

Despite many negative issues around social media, more than six in 10 teachers (62%) have tried to use it and similar technologies in a more positive way within the classroom. The most popular activities are using shared online services to collaborate on assignments (72%), creating a joint class or school blog (65%) and using social media sites to gather information or research (65%).

Russell Haworth, CEO, Nominet, comments, “With the new school year just underway, this research should be a wake-up call for all of us about the impact social media is having in schools. It should force us to look at how we can better support teachers to manage the social media problems they face each day in the classroom, as well as safeguarding our children.

“The time spent dealing with the impact of social media during school hours is alarming. Our children need help understanding that there is a time and place for social media and a level of maturity and responsibility required for it. If not, then the consequences could be very damaging. After all, once you see something you can’t ‘unsee’ it, and likewise, once you share something you can’t ‘unshare’ it. Parents and teachers need to help pupils be aware of the pitfalls of social media, and encourage them to always share with care.”

For more information and advice click here.


Domain name antics

Domain name antics: Lessons in protecting and promoting your reputation online from the US presidential primaries

Donald Trump has emerged as the Republican nominee in the US presidential race and Hillary Clinton is almost there with the Democratic National Convention to be held this month. Amongst the drama of a spirited and polarising race, what’s there to learn about protecting and promoting your reputation online? Is there, by any chance, a correlation between the savvy acquisition of relevant domain names, and success?

Particularly since Barack Obama’s groundbreaking campaign in 2008, a strong digital strategy is considered integral to successful political campaigning — in the US, and around the world. From building awareness through social media to collecting donations through a campaign website, the internet offers myriad opportunities to influence voters and build support.

The humble domain name is a small but significant ingredient in this. It’s both a signpost to a candidate’s home on the web, and an element of their online brand. At Nominet, we have been looking with interest across the Atlantic at all this high-profile domain name related activity, and we think it’s high time for a round-up of candidates’ domain name strategies. Or lack thereof: the failure of some to secure relevant domains is well documented. So, in no particular order, here are the best/worst (depending on your perspective) domain name antics from the US presidential primaries.

Early Republican favourite Jeb Bush, who bowed out of the race in February, didn’t manage to obtain, which for a while redirected to Trump’s campaign website. He also failed to register and, both of which were used to say unflattering things about the candidate. According to the Washington Post, the former is run by “a bearded gay couple who have been ‘madly in love’ since 1996”, to criticise Bush’s position on LGBTQ issues.

Republican runner-up Ted Cruz probably wished he had purchased, a domain with a storied history. First, it redirected to the website for the Affordable Care Act (known as Obamacare, against which Cruz once led a government shutdown). Next, it redirected to the Canadian Government’s immigration page. It’s currently being used to peddle a dating service called ‘Maple Match’, which “makes it easy for Americans to find the ideal Canadian partner to save them from the unfathomable horror of a Trump presidency.”

Another former Republican contender, Carly Fiorina, suffered a similar experience. Visiting brought you to a page that read, “Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain. So I’m using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard” via 30,000 ‘sad face’ emoticons, which apparently take four and a half minutes to scroll through. This inspired its own hashtag — ‘#domaingate’. But Fiorina fired back at media labelling it a “major gaffe” on the part of her campaign, telling reporters to check, which had mysteriously begun redirecting to Fiorina’s official campaign website. It now redirects to Donald Trump’s campaign website, as does

Trump himself purchased up to 3,000 domain names, in an effort to stop people discrediting him online. If you’re running for president (or launching a business, product, campaign, or blog), it is a good idea to secure the most relevant domains before someone else does. While there is a case for doing this, an aggressive defense strategy which involves the purchase of domain names that you wouldn’t want anyone else to own is ill-advised, simply due to the sheer number and variety of domains available. Anybody with an axe to grind against a brand – or in this case, a politician – will find a creative way of registering a derogatory website. For example, comedian John Oliver started a campaign to “Make Donald Drumpf again”, arguing that the name ‘Trump’ has a mystique not present in his original family name of ‘Drumpf’, and using the website, complete with a browser plugin to change every instance of the word ‘Trump’ to ‘Drumpf’. Another example (perhaps not so creative, but emphatic nonetheless): currently redirects to the ‘Donald Trump’ page on Wikipedia.

What lessons can businesses learn?

The domain name antics across the Atlantic gives us two main takeaways. The first is that forward planning is essential: make sure your domain strategy forms part of your overall marketing plan.

If you’re launching a new product, check that the relevant domain names are available, and that consumers won’t be confused by similar names. You should also think about what signals you want to send your audience. If your market is in the UK, a .uk domain name might be most suitable. Likewise, if you’re marketing to a Welsh audience, .cymru or .wales may be more appropriate. Perhaps one of the new gTLDs, such as .shop or .expert might be better for your business. Whatever domain ending you choose, check the names you want are free.

While the domain name might only form a small part of your marketing strategy, it is an important one nonetheless, and getting the basics right is key, as the US presidential hopefuls have demonstrated.

The second lesson is to know your rights, especially when facing criticism or exploitation of your brand. As Donald Trump (and Taylor Swift) found out, bulk-buying domain names might prevent some embarrassment, but it isn’t going to stop detractors from having their say. After all, free speech is one of the internet’s most enduring values.

However, there is a line, and when it’s crossed you do have rights. If a protest site is libelling you, or using your name or brand to make money, measures exist to dispute them and cancel their registrations. In general, the registry for the domain in question will have a process for dealing with disputes, based on unfair or abusive use of a brand or trademark.

But, fair protest is generally allowed. For example, in 2014, British laser eye surgery provider Optical Express attempted to force a legitimate protest site offline over allegations that it was funded by a rival. As these were unproven, the website was allowed to remain online. However, in a similar case involving low-cost airline Ryanair, the defendant was forced to hand the domain name back as he was found to be earning money through affiliate links to travel insurers.

Being in the public eye – whether as a brand or a politician – may inevitably involve some level of scrutiny, criticism, or attempts to make money off your name. Failures by the Bush, Clinton, Fiorina and Sanders camps to register simple domain names were alarming oversights given the importance of online campaigning in this year’s presidential race. From a branding perspective, it’s the equivalent of Amazon forgetting to register Although this does happen, as you may recall Google had its own close call recently when a man was able to buy its domain name for $12.

As the unfortunate creators of an online poll to rename a £200m polar research ship will tell you, you can’t predict what will happen on the internet, but there are basic steps you can take to protect yourself.

Russell Haworth is chief executive officer at Nominet

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