Visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk for a wealth of information about keeping your child safe online.
Download some useful information in PDF format on how to keep your child safe online:
As the first generation of Internet parents, we're at the bottom of a learning curve that seems to grow steeper with each new application and digital device. We can help our children take advantage of the best the Internet has to offer by showing them how to make smart decisions both online and off. The best way is to step into our children's online world.
Here are six key ways children use the Internet and what you should know about each one.
1. Learning Online
The Internet is often the first (and only) stop for pupils who have a project to research or a question they want answered.
Advice for you: Use child-safe search engines. Visit www.schoolfamily.com. Focus on results from trusted resources, such as the websites of established organisations and well-known newspapers and magazines.
2. Visiting Virtual Worlds
Children of all ages are drawn to virtual worlds where they can customize and control their own characters (or 'avatars'), play games, interact with other players.
Advice for you: Ask your child for a tour of their favourite virtual worlds. Check out the privacy features and parental controls.
3. Social Networking
Social networking sites are the online equivalent of hanging out with friends. They allow users to stay in touch through instant messaging, posting public messages to one another's profiles, sharing photos and videos, playing online games, sending virtual gifts, and much more. Privacy settings allow users to restrict who can view their profiles.
Advice for you: Face book requires everyone to be at least 13 years old before they can create an account. Creating an account with false info is in violation of their terms . Join Facebook or similar and go through the privacy controls with your child, get them to guide you through it. Make friends with them online, then you can keep an eye on them. Also a good rule of thumb is that only people your child has met in person should have access to their social networking profile.
4. Staying in Touch With Friends
Once children reach their preteen and teenage years, they begin texting and instant messaging and sending pictures/videos through computers, mobile phones, and other mobile devices.
Advice for you: Ask your child to think about whether he would like any of the texts or pictures he meant for only one friend to appear on the mobile phones and computer screens of all his classmates.
5. Posting and Viewing Videos
Video-sharing sites are incredibly popular with children. The video-sharing site YouTube has a policy against sexually explicit content and hate speech, but it relies on users to flag content as objectionable. Sit down with your child when she logs onto video-sharing sites so you can guide her choices. Tell her that if you're not with her and she sees something upsetting, she should get you. It's important that you know what she sees so you can figure out together what to do about it.
6. Playing Games
Games such as Xbox Live, allow players to interact online through text messaging or voice chat using a headset. If your child plays online games, set a rule that he plays only with people he knows in person.
As your child grows and digital technology evolves, keep the lines of communication open. Show that you're interested in their online life. But don't worry if you're always a few steps behind. Because as a parent your job isn't to hold your child's hand every step of the way. It's to prepare them to one day go out into the world without you. Both online and off.
"HOW TO" GUIDE: Protecting your child's online profile and activity
• Communicate with your children about their experiences.
Encourage your children to tell you if something they encounter on the Internet makes them feel anxious, uncomfortable, or threatened. Stay calm and remind your kids it is OK to bring it to your attention. Let them know you will work with them to help resolve the situation positively.
• Establish Internet rules.
As soon as your children use the Internet on their own, establish rules for Internet use. These rules should define whether your children can use social networking sites and how they can use them.
• Ensure your kids follow age limits.
The recommended age to sign up for social web sites is usually 13 and over. If your children are under the recommended age, do not let them use the sites. You cannot rely on the services themselves to keep your underage child from signing up.
• Educate yourself.
• Teach your children never meet anyone in person that they've communicated with online only.
Children are in real danger when they meet strangers in person whom they've communicated with online only. It might not be enough to simply tell your child not to talk to strangers, because your child might not consider someone they've "met" online to be a stranger.
For more advice on protecting your children on the Internet, visit www.microsoft.com/security/family-safety/predators.aspx
• Encourage your children to communicate with people they already know.
You can help protect your children by encouraging them to use these sites to communicate with friends, but not with people they've never met in person.
• Ensure your children don't use full names.
Teach your child to use only a first name or nickname, but not a nickname that would attract inappropriate attention. Also, do not allow your children to post the full names of their friends.
• Be wary of identifiable information in your child's profile.
Many social web sites allow children to join public groups that include everyone who goes to a certain school. Be careful when your children reveal information that can identify them, such as a school mascot, a workplace, or the name of the town they live in. Too much information can make your children vulnerable to cyberbullying, Internet predators, Internet fraud, or identity theft.
For more information, visit www.microsoft.com/security/online-privacy/phishing-symptoms.aspx
• Consider using a site that is not very public.
Some web sites allow you to password-protect your site or use other methods to help limit viewers to only people your child knows. With Windows Live Spaces, for example, you can set permissions for who can view your site, ranging from anyone on the Internet to only people you choose.
• Be smart about details in photographs.
Explain to your children that photographs can reveal a lot of personal information. Encourage your children not to post photographs of themselves or their friends with clearly identifiable details such as street signs, license plates on their cars or clothing/hats with their name on.
• Warn your child about expressing emotions to strangers.
You've probably already encouraged your children not to communicate with strangers directly online. However, children use social web sites to write journals and poems that often express strong emotions. Explain to your children that anyone with access to the Internet can read their words and predators often search out emotionally vulnerable children.
• Teach your children about cyberbullying.
As soon as your children are old enough to use social web sites, talk to them about cyberbullying.
Visit www.microsoft.com/security/family-safety/cyberbullying.aspx Tell them that if they think they're being cyber bullied, they should share this information right away with a parent, a teacher, or another adult that they trust. It's also important to encourage children to communicate with other people online in the same way they would face-to-face. Ask children to treat other people the way they would prefer to be treated.
• Removal of your child's page.
If your children refuse to follow the rules you've set to help protect their safety and you've attempted to help them change their behaviour, you can contact the social web site your child uses and ask them to remove the page.
You may also want to investigate Internet-filtering tools: visit www.microsoft.com/security/family-safety/childsafety-internet.aspx as a complement to, not a replacement for, parental supervision.
NSPCC have teamed up with O2 and designed a free app for your mobiles called NetAware. It is a simple guide for parents to the most popular social networks, apps and games. Learn about the privacy settings and safety guidelines for Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and more. You can also read up-to-date reviews from parents and children for each app, game and social network.
The straightforward, no-nonsense advice will untangle the web, and show you how you can be just as great a parent online, as you are the rest of the time.
• Minimum age rating for each social network, app and game
• Parent and child views on how easy it is to sign up, report abuse and adjust privacy settings
• What people are saying about the top 50 most popular social networks, apps and games
• Find out how likely your child is to come across inappropriate content
Visit the site ( https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ ) for more information or download the app, available in the Apple and Android store
If you have any questions about this app or your child’s safety online, please email Netaware@nspcc.org.uk
As with all schools, there are occasions where staff are required to help children with friendship difficulties. As children grow and mature, they often need support with changing relationships and how to respond to disagreements. In each and every case, we work hard to solve problems through mediation and our Good Conduct and Behaviour Policy / Counter Bullying Policy (available to download on the school website). Our actions reduce the frequency and likelihood of future problems.
Although such incidents remain in a minority, one common feature appears to be a cause, or at least a significant fuel, that of social media, most notably Facebook, WhatsApp Twitter and SnapChat. It is now very rare to investigate long running friendship issues without being informed that it started, is powered by, or made more complex by social media.
When schools manage pupil behaviour well, as we do, and opportunities to bully or upset others are greatly reduced, children can often seek to find other means by which they can target pupils; social media is an easy platform for this.
Commonly, a ‘minor incident’ or ‘fall out’ that could be managed and easily solved through support actions in school are escalated into a bigger problem once shared on social media. It is not uncommon for friends, who were not involved, or even there, to fuel (intentionally or otherwise) unfounded ill feeling, share unkind posts or escalate matters.
One sad feature of internet posts is that whether what is written is true, false or pure speculation, children will deem it as irrefutable fact. Additionally, it is noticed that if an incident is started by or escalated through social media, pupils are less likely to report the initial problem to an adult, including the school.
Most social media sites have a strict protocol that states those under a given age should not have an account. This is for a very good reason. If your child has an account, you are in breach of the user agreement and responsible for all posts, incidents and responses – leaving you vulnerable to action and your child open to the dangers the platform presents.
Age limits are included in this letter. It is noteworthy that none of the providers listed support primary aged pupils accessing the platforms.
Although we will do all we can to support pupil who are objects of social media postings, we are not responsible for them and have no power to have them removed. It is for the parent to report misuse to the provider, who is likely to inform you that you are in breach of the agreement you have made and therefore will be void of responsibility. They will state, as will I, that the immediate response should be to remove the access you have given your child to the site, as you are personally in breach of the agreement and responsible.
Our duty of care extends to all children and incidents; however it is increasingly difficult to resolve issues if the hard work undertaken by the school is undone by parents allowing access to social media that is not age appropriate. I therefore highlight that parents should think carefully about underage access and understand their own responsibilities, before, during and after, if their child is subject to misuse.
We often present children at Ashgate Primary School with guidance and support for the use of the internet, including the dangers of ‘cyber bullying’. Guidance is available on the school website for parents and carers, as is the presentation we use.
If you would like further guidance or support, please visit the school website links, of speak to the school directly, who will be happy to signpost you to support groups.