Children today are growing up in a fast-changing world where they have to learn to be safe online as well as in the physical world. As a school we are committed to developing children who can recognise both the benefits as well as the risks of the online world.
Helping your child stay safe
While Online safety and digital literacy is taught discretely in school, children are also using computers in ever more complex ways at home too. The best way to help your child to be safe when using the internet and new technologies is to talk to them and help them on their learning journey with these four principal ideas in mind:
- Children may be at risk because of their own behaviour, for example, sharing too much information. They should never give out personal details to online ‘friends’. Remember to use a nickname when logging on and don’t share your full name, email address, mobile number, school name or any photos, including photos of your family or friends. Any pictures or videos sent online can be changed or shared without permission. Keeping the computer in a family room means that you can share your child’s online experience.
- Some online content is not suitable for children and may be hurtful or harmful. This is true for content accessed and viewed via social networks, online games, blogs and websites. It’s important for children to consider the reliability of online material and be aware that it might not be true or written with a bias. Children may need your help as they begin to assess content in this way.
- It is important for children to realise that new friends made online may not be who they say they are and that once a friend is added to an online account, you may be sharing your personal information with them. Regularly reviewing friends lists and removing unwanted contacts is a useful step. Privacy settings online may also allow you to customise the information that each friend is able to access. Never meet an online ‘friend’ without an adult and tell somebody straight away if someone is being cruel or making them feel uncomfortable.
- Young people’s privacy and enjoyment online can sometimes be affected by advertising and marketing schemes, which can also mean inadvertently spending money online, for example within applications. Encourage your children to keep their personal information private, learn how to block both pop ups and spam emails, turn off in-app purchasing on devices where possible, and use a family email address when filling in online forms.
Most importantly, your child needs to know that they are able to talk to you and you need to emphasise the point that it’s never, ever too late to tell someone (parent, care-giver or teacher) if something they have seen or read on the internet makes them uncomfortable.
Another point we feel obligated to make is that as parents, you should never blame your child. Let them know you trust them to do the right thing and hopefully they will.
The below link has some really useful resources broken down into 8 ‘chapters’ for helping your child stay safe online: