At The Joseph Whitaker School, pupils use ICT regularly as part of their learning and pupils receive training about how to keep themselves safe in the online world.
Due to the advent of modern technology, particularly internet-ready smart phones, it is recognised that lines between the use of the Internet at home and school are becoming increasingly blurred. Content that the school considers inappropriate is blocked in school, but this does not prevent pupils accessing it from mobile devices on their way to and from school. Consequently, we try to give our pupils the tools and understanding with which to keep safe.
Social Networking and Personal Information
Facebook and many other social networking sites have a minimum age limit of 13 for registration. However, many children do not tell the truth about their age in order to create a profile, and those who do not use social networking sites are increasingly in the minority in every year group in school. It should be noted that entering a false age in order to access social networking sites risks being exposed to inappropriate content.
For those that have registered it is vital that they apply privacy settings to prevent access to their personal information by people they do not know. Hilden Oaks have produced a guide to Facebook privacy settings which it is strongly advised anyone with a Facebook profile should read. Please note though, Facebook changes some of its layouts and settings regularly so this publication may not match exactly the layout you see.
During ICT lessons, pupils look at what personal information is safe/not safe to share. Simple information such as first name or county of residence is considered relatively safe whilst other information is considered less safe such as surname, school attended or contact details. We would particularly discourage the posting of pictures of children in school uniform as the school and, potentially, individual pupils could be located through the badge by any persons wishing to cause harm to a child.
When using the internet, we are all leaving a trail of information. This could be through web sites that we sign up to, comments we post or through a myriad of other ways. This is known as a “digital footprint” and is being increasingly used by employers and further education providers to assess the young people applying to them. Comments and images posted many years previously can be found and may possibly affect future education or employment prospects.
What can you do?
The number one tip for keeping your child safe is to talk to them. I know this can be difficult, but encourage them to talk to you about what they’re doing with technology, even ask them to teach you! Try and not be intimidated by the technology and be as open with your child as possible. Other tips include:
- Discuss any worries or concerns your child may have in an open and non-judgemental way.
- Remind them to keep personal information safe.
- Set a good example. Explain why you are protecting your information and pictures.
- Use strong passwords (see the advice in the eSafety guide above).
- Discourage them from “collecting friends”. Only be friends online with people you know offline – it’s the quality of friends, not the quantity, which counts.
- Let your child use you as an excuse to be safe if they need to. Saving face with their peers by blaming Mum or Dad may give the child space to do what is right.
CEOP have produced a guide to the Internet for parents and carers. Its stated aim is to “equip you with the tools to have those tricky conversations with your children and keep your family safe online”. It runs for 25 minutes so may be best watched with a coffee. Sit back and enjoy after clicking here.
- Childnet Guide to Internet Safety
- McAfee Social Networking Guide
- Think U Know – Parent’s Fact Sheet
- Think U Know – Parents and Carers Checklist
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre: http://ceop.police.uk/
- CEOP’s “Thinkuknow” web site: http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/
- Video Game ratings: http://www.pegi.info/en/index/
- Parental advice for Facebook: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/facebook-parents