The internet is an exciting and fun place for adults and children to explore and use, both educationally and socially. Technology is becoming so advanced that you can now access the internet in lots of different ways however, while you enjoy the nice side of the internet, it’s very important to be aware of the risks involved with such a public and open world. The challenge for parents, carers and teachers is to make sure our children are aware and understand how to be safe when using the internet and related technologies.
e-Safety is concerned with safeguarding young people (and indeed adults!) in the digital world. Just as you would protect your child in the real world, you also need to keep them safe in the virtual world. It is about learning to understand and use new technologies in a positive way, it is not about restricting children, but instead educating them about the risks as well as the benefits so they can feel confident and happy online. It is also about being educated ourselves to be able to support and help young people.
Children at St. Stephen’s C. E. Primary School use the Internet on a regular basis as part of their learning. In school, we have regular ‘e-safety’ activities to remind children of the importance of keeping themselves safe online and all children are asked to sign an acceptable use policy which governs their safe use of the internet. We also provide information to parents via e-safety meetings, correspondence and our website.
At home, children may be given unsupervised access to the Internet. This potentially, allows them to access all kinds of content (both good and bad). By using the following simple guidelines you can help to ensure your child stays safe online:
- Talk together and have fun learning together. Regularly discuss online safety and go online with your children. Involve everyone and agree your family guidelines and rules. Remember that sometimes what is acceptable for a Year 10 child is not necessarily acceptable for a Year 4 child.
- Keep the computer in a communal area of the house, where it’s easier to monitor what your children are viewing. Do not let children have webcams, or similar, in their bedroom. Remember any image, sound or text can be copied, viewed and even altered by anyone.
- Be aware that many social networking sites, such as Facebook, have an age restriction of 13 years therefore younger children should not be using them.
- Keep your computer’s virus and firewall software up to-date. Remember that passwords should be kept private and not shared with others. Many e-Safety incidents relate back to the sharing of passwords
- Enable your ‘browser safe’ search option and/ or consider using internet filtering software and child-friendly search engines. Critically view all content as some websites are not what they appear.
- Encourage your children, and in fact all family members, to tell you if they feel uncomfortable, upset or threatened by anything they see online. Communication is the key to ‘staying safe’ online.
The app Roblox has very quickly become very popular with children in our school. A parent has alerted us to some potential risks to this site. Please be aware of an open chat room facility in the games. This is a site recommended for ages 8-18 although is also available to adults. There have been some reviews by parents published on Common Sense Media that have highlighted additional concerns. www.commonsensemedia.org
Use of this game and specifically the chat rooms/friend requests should be monitored closely by parents. Again, we recommend that registration for any app or game is completed with a parent so that they are able to ensure information in completed accurately and security settings are appropriate. The date of birth/ age can determine the access a user has to different facilities/games within a site.
The Local Authority has become aware of a significant number of issues with children sharing content using the app musical.ly and has advised schools to make parents aware of the risks of the app which has a minimum age of 13.
Their advice to parents is to carefully manage their child’s use of social media.
Full Details are here www.internetmatters.org/hub/expert-opinion/musical-ly-app-parents-need-know/
A summary of the risks posed is shown below:-
Dangers for kids:
- 18+ content in the songs lyrics. Swearing and adult concepts in the provided music.
- Pornography, graphic content, suicide notes.
- ly users can search for other users to view or follow near their own location/city.
- User generated videos can be viewed and shared onto other social media and messaging apps increasing exposure.
- Bullying in comments.
- Users can publicise their messager usernames or social media profiles on their Musical.ly profile.
- ly live streaming is not private even if you have the privacy settings set up.
- Using live streaming Musical.ly app Live.ly may mean larger exposure with mean comments, interacting in real time with viewers.
- Many fake user accounts, used to hijack views or set up to bully.
- Hacking of accounts by promotional accounts (Free Musical.ly Crowns) within the apps.
- Not easy to report accounts for being fakes or underage inside the app.
- Many underage accounts with large amounts of followers.
- Easy for users to create multiple accounts and hide them from their parents.
- Fake Musical.ly apps on the app store that charge for download or offer followers.
We have also provided some useful web links below and additional information and guidance for e-Safety on our website.
The NSPCC have launched a campaign to help parents learn how to keep their children safe when using devices, and schools have been asked to share the following advice.