Staying Safe Online

New technologies have become integral to the lives of children and young people in today's society, both within schools and in their lives outside school. The Internet and other digital information and communications technologies are powerful tools, which open up new opportunities for everyone. These technologies can stimulate discussion, promote creativity and stimulate awareness of context to promote effective learning.

Technology can provide great rewards to those that learn to use it well. It's important that these benefits are received whilst, at the same time, the risks are limited. Young people should have an entitlement to safe internet access at all times.

E Safety is something that we all need to think about these days. Children are exposed to all manner of things whilst online and just like in the real world, we need to be aware of and consider carefully, our interactions in the digital world.

E-Safety Tips for Parents & Carers

  • You should never give out personal details to online ‘friends’. Use a nickname when logging on and don’t share full name, email address, mobile number, school name and any photos, including photos of family or friends – any picture or video online can be changed or shared without permission.
  • Talk to your child about what they are doing online and who they are talking to. Get them to show you how to use things you are not familiar with. Keeping the computer in a family room means that you can share your child’s online experience, they are less likely to act inappropriately (i.e. via webcam) and their online ‘friends’ will see they are in a family room.
  • If your child receives a message that upsets them, remind them not to reply, they should save the message and show you or another trusted adult.
  • Spam and junk emails and texts are not true, don’t reply or send them to anyone else, just delete them.
  • Don’t open files sent from people you don’t know. They could contain a virus, or worse – an inappropriate image or film.
  • An online ‘friend’ is anyone you have not met in real life; no matter how long you have been friends with them.
  • Help your child to understand that some people lie online and that it’s better to keep online ‘mates’ online. They should never meet up with any online ’friends’ without an adult they trust.
  • Make sure they know how to block someone online and report them if they feel uncomfortable.
  • Make sure your child feels able to talk to you, let them know that it’s never too late to tell someone if something makes them feel uncomfortable. Don’t blame your child, let then know you trust them.

Social Networks & Online Services

People are generally familiar with popular sites like Facebook & Google, but for many kids, they are old news. Instead, many now use alternatives like & Snapchat, amongst others, and these services, whilst similar to Facebook, also bring fresh benefits and risks.

Try to understand exactly which networks/services your child uses, and familiarise yourself with their privacy & safety guidelines. Mitigating the risk is easier when you understand it.

Many social networking sites have minimum age requirements, and these are in place for a reason. Even the less common sites, or sites not immediatley thought of as social networking, often have social networking aspects to them, an example would be Moshi Monsters.

Computers & Other Devices

Popular computer operating systems, Microsoft Windows & Max OS X, both include some form of parental control. Other less popular Linux based systems, such as Ubuntu, will require more time investment to understand and make safe.

Google Chromebooks & Chromeboxes are increasingly popular and blur the lines a little between a traditional computer and more 'casual use' devices, such as tablets.

As for smart phones and tablets, aside from Apple and Microsoft devices, everybody else (including the Amazon Kindle & Samsung Galaxy range) pretty much uses some version of Google's Android OS.

Whatever your device, it's possible to restrict how your child uses it in a variety of ways. Sometimes by PIN locking certain features, sometimes in smart ways such as, 30 minutes of games only after 60 minutes of reading or educational app use.

What's important is to think about all the ways your child has access to online content and messaging services. It could be their new tablet, or your smart phone when their tablet is out of charge, or even your new smart TV.

Connected Games Consoles

Modern games consoles and the games they run are a far cry from Pong. These boxes are highly capable, and highly connected. It's not just about playing games anymore, your child can interact with people online too.

It's important to take the time to understand how to control your child's access to features and content in order to reduce the risk. For example, limiting the age rating of movies played on in-built disc players, controling in-game messaging and also limiting in app purchases.

It's also a good idea to familiarise yourself with PEGI game ratings, which are similar to BBFC film ratings in the UK.

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