Almost all of our pupils use the Internet at home and we know that, as parents, it can be difficult to allow children the freedom to develop as responsible individuals while protecting them from the perils and pitfalls of the Internet, particularly social media. Increasingly, even at primary school age, younger people are conducting their social life online so parents need to provide guidance to make sure that their children behave safely and responsibly.
Please help your children by following these key recommendations:
- Talk regularly with your children about their use of technology and how they communicate with people online
- Keep computers and other web-enabled devices in family rooms
Technology is a fantastic aid to learning and enjoyment but there are dangers of which we must all be aware. At school we have strict filters on internet traffic at Service Provider level, we do not allow pupils to communicate online with people outside of the school and we do not allow children to use the internet unsupervised.
A wealth of information exists about online safety and children’s use of the Internet so it can be difficult to get clear, concise guidelines about the right way to approach online safety. We’ve waded through the online safety guidelines and websites, drawn from our own experience as parents and of issues raised locally and put together some practical tips to ensure safer and more healthy use of technology at home.
What to tell your children
At school, we educate children about online safety in Computing lessons but it’s important that parents know some key online safety tips too. Please remind your children of the following:
- Don’t post too much information about yourself online
Never share information like your last name, your address, your phone number or where you go to school. Any information that you post online should be treated as if it’s available to everyone. Even if you’ve restricted settings to ‘Friends Only’, the information that you have posted can always be shared or copied.
- Only message or chat to people that you know in real life
There are some bad people who could pretend to be your friend. How do you know you can trust them? If someone tries to contact you, talk to your parents.
- Think very carefully before posting photos and videos
Photos can give away more information than you think: there could be something in the background that gives away where you live or a school book with your full name on it. Also, silly pictures can always be shared and this could cause embarrassment. It’s a good idea to ask parents to check photos or videos before they are posted online.
- Always be friendly.
If you say something unkind about someone online you could find yourself in serious trouble. Messaging on the internet is not the same as talking face to face – there is a record of what you said on the computer and it’s very difficult to take your comments back. Secondary schools suspend children who criticise staff and other pupils on Social Networks.
- If something online makes you feel uncomfortable, get your parents
If somebody says something to you, sends you something, or you see something that makes you uncomfortable; get your parents straight away – they can discuss it with you and help make sure that it doesn’t happen again.
- Talk to your parents and respect your family’s rules for internet use.
Parents can make sure you have fun while helping you stay safe online.
- Monitor use and set boundaries.
Most of our pupils have their own iPads, mobile phones or other devices. This means they also have access to the internet including social networks, text and video chat.
- Consider setting Parental Restrictions.
It can be more difficult for parents to monitor use of internet enabled devices such as mobile phones and tablets that can be easily carried from one room to another.
- Consider taking devices away at bedtime.
When it’s time to sleep, an internet connected device on a bedside table can be distracting. It is very common for children to play games and message friends when they should be getting a refreshing night’s sleep.
- Monitor use and minimise data sharing.
If you can, stick to age appropriate websites. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter require users to be older than 13 to have a profile, but younger children set up accounts anyway. Social networks keep children connected to friends and provide a space for self-expression but there are no guarantees of privacy: anything can be shared.
- Parents must take responsibility for underage use of social networks.
This is a requirement under the terms and conditions of most social networking sites.
- Privacy settings should always be restricted to Friends only.
This may reduce the risk of information about children getting into the wrong hands. However, even posts that are restricted to Friends only can be shared or copied. Anything posted on social networks should be treated as public. Profile pictures and wallpaper will always be public.
- Children should not post too much information about themselves
Social Networks encourage users to divulge as much information as possible to help match like-minded individuals, but you rarely have to provide details about yourself. Children should remain as anonymous as possible online.
- If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
All messages should be friendly and not critical of others. It can be easy to misinterpret the tone and meaning of on-screen communications and children, in particular, should always check messages before hitting the send button.
- Issues arising from upsetting communications can sometimes spill over into school.
Where this occurs we will work with parents and pupils to resolve the issues and reinforce the importance of appropriate behaviour.
The following documents and links highlight online safety issues and provide help on safe use of computers and the Internet at home. If you need any advice or have any comments about online safety, please contact Mr Taylor (Headteacher).
General advice guides
National E-Safety Guides - useful for information about specific APPs and devices.
Think You Know - guidance aimed at different age groups.
Safer Internet - general advice on staying safe online.
Safer Kids - simple rules for children to follow.
Pegi Age Ratings - a place to check appropriateness of games, apps and films.
Carphonewarehouse - a guide to using mobile devices safely.
Setting up parental controls on devices
If you’re worried that your child is being groomed online or sexually exploited you should report your concerns to CEOP. The CEOP is a command of the National Crime Agency and can investigate what is happening – with the assurance that the safety and wellbeing of your child is paramount at all times.
It is not always easy to spot the signs of online grooming and sexual exploitation so if you have any concern at all about someone your child is in contact with, you should get in touch with CEOP.
You should always report if your child is or has been in contact with someone who is:
- Chatting online to your child about sex
- Asking them to do sexual things on webcam
- Asking to meet up if they’ve only met them online
- Requesting sexual pictures
- Forcing them into sexual activity
- Making them feel unsafe
If you are concerned that your child is in immediate danger, call 999.