Keeping Children Safe Online
The internet has changed all of our lives, particularly our children’s. The online world is a wonderful place for young people to explore, with unprecedented opportunities for learning and creativity, but just like the real world there are risks and dangers they should be aware of and which we should all act to protect them from. As a school we encourage the use of technology as an important part of our students’ development but always want them to spend their time online safely. As a parent/carer you can play an essential part in ensuring this.
Here are a few simple steps we recommend you follow to help keep them safe.
- 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.
- 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.
There are lots of amazing resources online to support you in ensuring your child remains safe. Here are some links to support you:
I’m worried my child might see something inappropriate online – This is guidance from Think You Know the government sponsored guidance for online safety.
Get Help This is guidance about what you can do if you think something has upset you or your child including links to CEOP and how to report people on social media.
Using parental controls This is guidance on how to use parental controls effectively with your devices, remember that these are not 100% effective and should be used in conjunction with the advice above.
Younger children sharing pictures or videos online This is guidance on how children share photos and videos online, the risks that are involved and what to do if inappropriate things are shared.
What do I need to know about online gaming?
Gaming is a fun and sociable way to spend time, encouraging teamwork and developing skills. However there are a few things you need to be aware of:
- Game are age rated and children should only play the games that are recommend for their age.
- Some games let children play and chat with anyone in the world. This means they might come across offensive language and bullying
- Not everyone online is who they say they are. Children should avoid giving out personal details that could identify them or their location
- Some games encourage players to buy extra elements during the game – children have been known to run up large bills without realising
Keeping your child safe whilst online gaming
There is nothing like sitting down with your children and joining in some of their games to find out just why they find them such fun. Here’s how to keep their gaming experience healthy:
- Talk about the games they are playing – engage and play along with them.
- Ensure the children can not purchase in game material as this can leave you with a large bill.
- Ensure the games are suitable – they are age rated by PEGI.
- Always play in a well lit room, best case is a family room.
- Take regular breaks at least 5 mins break for every 45 minutes.
- Don’t play a game for hours on end, no matter how compelling it may be.
- Keep a minimum distance from the screen.