Children and young people spend a lot of time online, which is completely normal and mostly harmless. But children do also face risks such as cyberbullying or seeing content that's inappropriate. That's why it's important for children and young people to know how to stay safe online.
Whether you're unsure about what happens online or are up to speed with new technology, it's important that you talk to your child about staying safe.
It may feel daunting, but you don't need to be an expert on the internet. Understanding what children do online and the risks they face will help you keep your child safe online. If you think your child is a victim of cyber-bullying or online harassment, please ask them to tell a teacher.
What children do online
Young people go online to connect with friends, and make new ones, to browse the internet for information, chat with others and play games. They may:
- search for information or content on search engines like Google
- share images and watch videos through websites or mobile apps like Instagram, Pinterest, Vine and YouTube
- use social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter
- write or reply to messages on forums and message boards
- play games alone or with others through websites, apps or game consoles
- chat with other people through online games, games consoles, webcams, social networks and tools like Whatsapp
When online, children and young people can learn new things, get help with homework, express themselves creatively and connect with friends and family.
There are also risks, but by understanding and talking about the dangers you can help keep your child safe online.
The risks and dangers online
- Accessing inappropriate content, including pornography
- Ignoring age restrictions
- Friending or communicating with people they don't know
- Grooming and sexual abuse
- Sharing personal information
- Gambling or running up debts
Tips to keep children safe
The internet does pose certain risks and dangers to children, but it offers lots of opportunities too. There are things you can do to keep your child safe.
Talking to your child is one of the best ways to keep them safe. You can also use parental controls on social networks, online games and browsers or software that can filter or monitor what your child can see.
Preventing your children from using the internet or mobile phones won't keep them safe online, so it's important to have conversations that help your child understand how to stay safe and what to do if they ever feel scared or uncomfortable.
Inform them that they should never share personal information on social networking profile or 'About me' settings. A telephone number or address innocently entered can easily get into the wrong hands.
If they are using video, be sure that you know who they are talking to, and that they are not being asked to undress. If computers and devices are in bedrooms, keep the doors open.
What we do in school
Whilst regulation and technical solutions are very important, this must be balanced by educating students to take a responsible approach as recommended by Ofsted. The education of students in e-safety is therefore an essential part of the curriculum. We recognise that children and young people need the help and support of the school to recognise and avoid e-safety risks and build their resilience.
We use Smoothwall web filtering.
The school has a planned e-safety curriculum including:
- An 8 week project in Year 7 focussed on cyber-bullying.
- A talk on E-Safety is delivered to all new parents as part of a year 7 focus evening.
- Year 8 revist e-safety in the context of another project.
- Key e-safety messages are reinforced in assemblies to all year groups.
- Students are taught in all relevant lessons to be critically aware of the materials/content they access on-line and be guided to validate the accuracy of information as appropriate.
- Where students are allowed to freely search the internet, teachers are vigilant in monitoring the content of the websites the students visit; reporting any inappropriate sites found to IT Support.
- All students and parents are asked to positively sign an acceptable usage policy prior to using our IT systems.
It is accepted that from time to time, for good educational reasons, students may need to research topics (eg racism, drugs, discrimination) that would normally result in internet searches being blocked. In such a situation, staff can request that IT Support can temporarily remove those sites from the filtered list for the period of study.