I would like to take the opportunity, to remind all parents about the importance of ensuring that children stay safe when they are using computers, especially on social networking sites. I have attached some “Top Tips” that have been sent out by CEOP (Child Exploitation and On-line Protection service) stressing simple measures that parents can take to help promote internet safety.
In common with many other schools, we have had some problems in the use of Facebook by pupils. The minimum age for anyone to have a Facebook account is thirteen. We are aware that many primary age children do have Facebook accounts; but they may not have the maturity to cope with the risks of on-line chat, and may be in danger from unsuitable content.
National studies show that children will often put hurtful or offensive things in a text message or an email that they would never say directly to another person. Groups of friends will also often know each others’ passwords, and this has led to messages being sent maliciously from another account. To try to prevent this happening we recommend that:
- The computer is kept in a shared place in the house, not your child’s bedroom, so that you can regularly monitor what they are doing are on-line.
- Parents have “net-nanny” or other filtering software installed to help screen-out unsuitable content.
- Parents check messages sent by their children from time to time.
- Parents remind children that, if they would not say something to someone’s face, they should not say it electronically, especially as it is impossible to tell if a text or email is serious or a joke.
- Children should not share their passwords, even with their friends.
Parents check that privacy setting are set at a high level so that no one can view personal information on their child’s account.
It is parents’ responsibility to supervise their child’s use of the Internet at home. The School cannot resolve problems of inappropriate use of Facebook or offensive messages sent out of school time. Offensive material posted on line is particularly upsetting as it can be accessed by so many people and we would ask for your co-operation in ensuring that this does not happen.
If you require further information about keeping your child safe on-line, you will find the following website very helpful www.thinkuknow.co.uk.. We teach all the children about staying safe on line as part of our ICT and PHSE work.
Top tips for internet safety
Talk to your child about what they’re up to online. Be a part of their online life; involve the whole family and show an interest. Find out what sites they visit and what they love about them, if they know you understand they are more likely to come to you if they have any problems.
Watch Think U Know films and cartoons with your child. The Think U Know site(www.thinkuknow.co.uk.) has films, games and advice for children from five all the way to 16.
Encourage your child to go online and explore! There is a wealth of age-appropriate sites online for your children. Encourage them to use sites which are fun, educational and that will help them to develop online skills.
Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Children grow up fast and they will be growing in confidence and learning new skills daily. It’s important that as your child learns more, so do you.
Set boundaries in the online world just as you would in the real world. Think about what they might see, what they share, who they talk to and how long they spend online. It is important to discuss boundaries at a young age to develop the tools and skills children need to enjoy their time online.
Keep all equipment that connects to the internet in a family space. For children of this age, it is important to keep internet use in family areas so you can see the sites your child is using and be there for them if they stumble across something they don’t want to see.
Know what connects to the internet and how. Nowadays even the TV connects to the internet. Make sure you’re aware of which devices that your child uses connect to the internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the internet – is it your connection, or a neighbour’s wifi? This will affect whether the safety setting you set are being applied.
Use parental controls on devices that link to the internet, such as the TV, laptops, computers, games consoles and mobile phones. Parental controls are not just about locking and blocking, they are a tool to help you set appropriate boundaries as your child grows and develops. They are not the answer to your child’s online safety, but they are a good start and they are not as difficult to install as you might think. Service providers are working hard to make them simple, effective and user friendly. Contact your service provider and learn how to set your controls.