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Most of our students will be at home for long periods of time due to the school closure. It is inevitable that they will be spending more time online. It is important that we keep our children safe when they are using the internet, including social media and gaming.
We can only be successful in keeping children safe online if we work with parents to ensure the e-Safety message is consistent. We need parents to talk to their children about how they can keep safe and behave appropriately online.
All the popular social media platforms have an age restriction of 13, and WhatsApp has an age restriction of 16. There are good reasons for this age restriction to be in place. For example:
- exposure to inappropriate and harmful content;
- lack of maturity to use webite and apps safely;
- risk of being contacted by sexual predators;
- creation of online profiles which will be hard to remove in the future.
If you do allow your child to have a social media account, make sure you set the privacy settings to private and check your child’s account on a regular basis.
The Communication Act 2003 makes it an offence to send anything on the internet that is offensive, indecent, threatening or false and the reason for sending it is to cause the other person annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety. The age of criminal responsibility in England is 10 years old.
What can parents and carers do?
- Discuss as a family how the internet will be used in your house. Consider what should be kept private online (personal information, photos etc.) and decide rules for making and meeting online friends.
- Install antivirus software, secure your internet connection and use Parental Control functions on your home broadband for computers, mobile phones and games consoles to block unsuitable content. A useful website to show you how to do all of this is https://www.internetmatters.org/.
- Locate your computer in a supervised family area. Always supervise the use of webcams and applications which allow voice or video chat.
- Remember that Children are accessing the internet via their phones, tablets, iPods, Kindles, X boxes, Nintendo’s, PlayStation etc. Without parental controls on these devices, children can access whatever they want on the internet.
- Talk to your child and ask them to show or even teach you how they use the internet, learn which websites or tools they like to use and why.
- Always ensure your child knows how to block or report people online who send nasty or inappropriate messages or content. Encourage your child not to retaliate or reply.
- Make sure your child knows to tell an adult they trust if they see something online that makes them feel scared, worried or uncomfortable.
- It’s essential to be realistic - banning the internet or technology will not work and it often makes a child less likely to report a problem. Education around safe use is essential.
Websites for more information
www.thinkuknow.co.uk - Visit the “Parent/Carer” Section and use the “Click CEOP” button to seek advice and report online abuse
www.childnet.com - Visit the ‘Know It All’ Section for an interactive guide about online safety
ww.getsafeonline.org - Free up-to-date Security advice
www.parentinfo.org - Supported by CEOP
www.cybermentors.org.uk - Online support for children
www.childline.org.uk - Online support for children
https://www.internetmatters.org/ - Explains how to set up parental controls on most devices and game consoles.
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ - A bit like TripAdvisor for the Internet. Find out about Apps and Games and age restrictions.