On Monday, there was an online safety parent workshop – thank you to those who were able to attend. This week’s message reinforces the guidance that was shared. It comes from Mrs Weekes, the Safeguarding Leader across our three Sphere Federation schools…
You may think that we talk too much about Online Safety but the issues and challenges that our children may face change every day. It’s really important to keep online safety high on your radar so that, together, we can keep our young people safe.
Research shows that 44% of six year olds go online in their bedroom. If your child is accessing the internet on their own devices, it’s really hard to know what they’re seeing or what they’re doing. While it’s important that children have time to themselves and have some independence, it’s also crucial that we make sure they’re keeping safe. There are many ways you can do this but here are some top tips:
- Make sure that parental controls are enabled on devices and the household internet; there are many parent guides to help you do this if you’re not sure.
- If your child is using a device, make sure they’re in the same room as you or other responsible members of the family – they shouldn’t be alone in their bedroom.
- Show an interest in what they’re doing online – every now and again, ask them what they’re watching or doing.
- Don’t assume that sites you use are ok – many children are seeing inappropriate content on YouTube so make sure you know what they’re watching.
- Check their devices on a daily basis to see which websites they’ve accessed.
Here’s some further guidance for some particular issues…
Despite the controls you put in place, your child might still view something that’s inappropriate. It’s important that you’re able to deal with this situation if it arises.
- Have an age appropriate conversation and explain that there are some things online that are for adults only and if they see something that upsets them online, they should always come and tell you.
- It may be a good time to help your child think critically about the images they see online and offline.
- Try to give them coping strategies to help them deal with any online content that they’re uncomfortable with.
- Reassure them that they can always come to you and that they aren’t at fault.
- Be prepared that they may have questions about sex and relationships or other issues.
- Discuss the problem with other parents to share experiences and solutions.
- Block any inappropriate content.
Many of our children are accessing social media platforms on a daily basis. If your child has social media accounts, it’s important that you know some facts about these apps.
- Check age limits – the majority of social media have a minimum age of 13 years (WhatsApp has a minimum age of 16 years and TikTok has just introduced a minimum age of 18 years for any live posts).
- Make sure privacy settings are on and that location services are turned off
- Help your child to be a good role model online – think before they post.
- Make sure they know no to share personal information – maybe even create an alias so they’re not using their real name.
- Use a strong password and different passwords for different accounts.
- Don’t accept or send friend requests to anyone they don’t know.
There are benefits and challenges with screen time. Make sure the rules in your house are clear, balanced and work for your family. Here are some suggestions:
- Create screen time rules together.
- Take an active role in their digital life.
- Use tools to manage their screen time and access to media – even as simple as setting a time limit and an alarm.
- Encourage them to be selective in how they spend their time online and offline.
- What’s your child seeing or doing online?
- Who might your child be chatting to online?
- How might their online experiences affect them?
- Check out this guide to social media and how it links with mental health – it links nicely with our current Living and Learning theme (mental health), too.
If you’ve any specific concerns, do ask us. Let’s work together to keep our children happy and healthy in every way.