Our children love to use the Internet to play games and to communicate with their friends. The way they start using computers and the guidance they are given at this young age can set them on the right path to being safer in later life.
At our school we ensure that our children are taught the basic tips of Internet Safety in every year group. We use the Project Evolve scheme of work in every classroom throughout the year as it is embedded into our PSHE.
We also support Safer Internet Day every year which is run by UK Safer Internet Centre. We have 2 internet safety days a year as we believe it is of importance in our ever digitalised world. They also have a wealth of resources to support parents and carers with technology guides for phones, tablets, smart speakers, laptops, games consoles and smart TVs
For the slides from our recent social media presentation for parents, please see below.
Steps to help protect your child online
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Don’t allow your child to use the internet alone in their bedroom unsupervised!
This is probably the most important thing you can do. Even without monitoring the website or app, by being in a shared place you can monitor their reactions and know when something has been said or viewed that has left them worried or concerned. They may not tell you about it that moment, but later that evening you can start a conversation and understand more.
- Spend time with your children online.
Play minecraft with them! Use social media online as a family. As you do, you can then ask them about how you chat to others, who the people are, do they know them, shall we call them strangers and what therefore should we not share etc. By spending time online you are educating yourself whilst building trust that will enable them to tell you when they are worried.
- Make reasonable rules and set time and use limits. Enforce them.
You should set guidelines about what your children can and cannot do on the Internet. Try to understand their needs, interest and curiosity. But, you must set limits on when they may use the Internet and for how long. Use an agreement or contract for everyone to sign listing the rules about keeping safe online.
- Put accounts in your name and know your child’s passwords.
The Internet account and primary screen name should be in your name, not your children’s names. It’s also a good idea to know your children’s passwords and let them know you will check their online activity.
- Never allow your children to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met online without your permission.
Many predators want to meet a child for sexual contact. Your child should never meet a stranger alone in a face-to-face meeting. If you ever do agree to a meeting, make sure it is in a public place and accompany your child.
- Do not give out any personal information of any kind on the Internet – THAT MEANS YOU TOO!
Children should never give out their name, home address, telephone number or school name. They should be aware that even naming a friend, local sports team, shopping centre or community event could give away their identities.
Are you also a good role model for them or do you break all the rules (adults are often the worst!)
- Only share pictures if the other person is happy.
As a parent, would you want your child to post pictures of you from birth to now online withoutyour permission? If not, don’t do it to them – instead ask them. By asking you are modelling how to be responsible online and they will then copy this and ask others.
- Utilise your Internet Service Provider’s parental controls and commercial blocking and filtering software tools.
Most ISP’s have parental controls – use them. Other filtering and monitoring software programs can be purchased separately. Monitors show a history of use so you can see where your child has been on the Internet. Filters block access to objectionable material. Remember, while parents should utilise monitors and filters, do not totally rely upon them. There is no substitute for parental guidance and supervision.
- Be sensitive to changes in your children’s behaviours that may indicate they are being victimised.
Be alert to personality changes. If victimized online, children may become withdrawn from their families or secretive about their activities. Computer sex offenders work very hard at driving a wedge between children and their parents.
Social Networking and Young People
Young people’s use of the internet has increased dramatically in recent years, with 96% of 9-16 year olds using the internet daily. Young people use the internet for a wide range of purposes, from completing school work, communicating with friends to watching videos and playing games.
Social networking sites have played a huge part in changing the way young people interact with others and they use them as a platform to learn, share views and demonstrate their creativity.
However, they could also be vulnerable to many risks and it exposes them to experiences which they may find upsetting such as:
- Bullying online (cyberbullying)
- Sharing too much information
- Vulnerability to predatory adults
- Sharing videos or photographs that they later regret
- Exposure to age-innapproprite material
- Risk of identity theft
In a recent survey by the NSPCC, they found out that 28% of 11-16 year olds had experienced upsetting encounters on social media sites:
- 37% being targeted by trolls
- 22% being excluded from social groups/friends
- 18% recieving aggressive or violent language
- 14% pressured into looking a certain way
- 12% cyberstalking
- 12% receiving unwanted sexual messages
- 10% experiencing racism
- 7% experiencing homophobia
- 3% encouraged to self harm
Young people maybe experts on using the internet, but they still need guidance and protection. To help keep them safe on social networks, make sure you continue talking about what they are doing online:
- Discuss and agree your expectations before they use any site, app or feature that allows them to communicate.
- Check the minimum age requirements.
- Talk to them about the dangers of oversharing information about themselves that they may regret – teach them to Think Before You Post.
- Encourage them to check the policies and privacy settings on any sites and apps they use.
- Remind them that the same rules apply online as they do at home or school – they shouldn’t post anything they wouldn’t say face-to-face.
- Check that your child knows how to block and report contacts.
- Discuss the use of parental controls.
With the proliferation of tablets and all the benefits they bring, children can potentially become exposed to apps that bring with them a degree of risk due to social networks. Many are clearly labelled as inappropriate for young people, but some that are can carry dangers: parents need to have a clear view of what apps are installed on their children’s devices, especially as some of the more risky such as Facebook often come pre-installed. For specific social-media guides please check out the safer internet centre’s social media guides.