At Pippins School we are committed to safeguarding and take online safety very seriously. Below you can read some simple information about how to keep your child safe online. If you have any concerns, please speak to your child’s class teacher, or contact the headteacher.
Be SMART on the internet – Remember these five smart rules when using the internet and mobile phones. They are very important.
S – Safe. Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information – such as your full name, email address, phone number, home address, photos or school name – to people you are chatting with online
M – Meeting. Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Only do so with your parents’ or carers’ permission and even then only when they can be present.
A – Accepting. Accepting emails, IM messages or opening files, pictures or texts from people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses or nasty messages!
R – Reliable. Information you find on the internet may not be true, or someone online may be lying about who they are.
T – Tell. Tell your parent, carer or a trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if someone you know is being bullied online. You can report online abuse to the police at http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk
What can parents do?
- Get involved in your children’s internet use. Discussing the opportunities and risks with children involves helping them to see for themselves how they might get into and out of difficulty.
- Agree rules as a family about not disclosing personal information, time spent online, and contacting people via the internet.
- Create a family email address for registering online.
- Bookmark your family’s favourite websites. Add www.ceop.gov.uk to your favourites if you ever need to report online abuse to the police.
- Encourage children to talk to someone they trust if they feel worried or upset by something that happens online.
- Make use of available filtering and monitoring software. These can help to block inappropriate material but remember they are not 100% effective and are no substitute for adult involvement and supervision. See http://www.getnetwise.org/
- Make sure your children know the SMART rules. They have been written especially for young people to remind them how to be careful online.
Social networking sites, such as MySpace, Bebo and Facebook, are very popular with children, even those as young as 8 and 9. These types of sites allow children to be incredibly creative online, keep in touch with their friends and express themselves using a whole range of different media and applications such as video, photos, music, and chat.
However, it’s important to recognise that while these are fun and offer great possibilities for children, there are potential risks including cyberbullying, inappropriate sexual contact with children and young people and the misuse of personal information.
As a parent, carer or teacher it’s really important to familiarise yourself with social networking services. Most sites stipulate a minimum user age of 13 or 14, although some interactive sites are designed specifically for younger children. By understanding these sites you can help to support your children in choosing an appropriate site and using it in a safe and constructive way.
Social networking sites, alongside sites, which enable users to put up their own pictures, text and videos (known as user-generated content) such as YouTube, blogging sites, and interactive games sites for example are part of a social and technological revolution that is known as Web 2.0. Web 2.0 is characterised by the ease with which anyone can produce and publish their own content and link with others.Young people especially love this new environment because they can have a powerful voice to express their identity and opinions and many are using it to good effect. For example, some musicians and bands have launched themselves entirely on the strength of this new stage. And all this is for free and with just one password – is it any wonder why young people love it?
PRIVATE OR PUBLIC SOCIAL LIFE?
Increasingly children and young people are able to access and use these applications on the go through mobile and gaming devices, where they are away from supervision, enabling the instant publishing of pictures. What sometimes appears as a private space for a child can become public very quickly and this blur between public and private expression can potentially put a child at risk in two main ways:
Content: Children creating or posting inappropriate, offensive or even illegal content in their or others’ Web pages could get them into trouble with their school, friends, and even the police, depending on the nature of the material. Content posted to the Web can be copied, altered and reposted by anyone and it’s very difficult to ‘take back’ what may be later regretted. This can damage reputations as well as future prospects.
Contact: Children can also put too much personal information in these sites, exposing their information to adults with a sexual interest in children. Posting or chatting about personal details might enable someone to identify and contact your child online or in person. There is also the more likely risk of cyberbullying with young people intentionally harming another person online.
It is not easy talking to a young person about their social networking online or offlline. Young people often think of these sites as their private domain, in much the same way as they would a personal diary and address book. However because of the public nature of this environment and because young people have been hurt by inappropriate behaviour in these spaces, it is important that they understand the risks and are able to safeguard themselves with the help and support of others.
Here are 5 Ps that should be considered about social networking sites.
Positive – Stay positive about social networking sites – try to strike a balance between educating children and young people to behave safely and trusting them to get on with it. Get involved – ask them how to create a profile, get them to show you theirs and ask them to add you to their friends list!
Privacy – Most social network providers make available tools for user protection, including privacy tools and it is important to make sure that children know how to use these tools. It’s important to discuss the value of privacy with children. Encourage your child to keep their passwords private and work with them to check the privacy settings on their account which limit how much of their information can be seen by others – for example, encourage your child to change their settings to private so that only people they allow can see what they post and comment on their space, rather than public which leaves their site open to be viewed by anyone. And encourage them to add friends they know in the real world, remembering that friends they have only met online are still strangers.
Photos – It’s natural that children will want to include a photo on their site or profile, but help them think about the implications of posting photos and what is suitable. It is important to think about the type of picture and the kind of attention it might attract, the information it could divulge and who could see it. Suggest that your child ask permission of other people in the images that they post. Also, be aware that photos can be easily copied, changed, shared, used elsewhere, and can potentially stay online forever. One question to ask your child is “Would you want a relative or future employer to see this photo?”
Postings – The ability to interact with this media and comment on other people’s sites is part of what makes these sites so attractive. However, make sure you help your child to think before they post. Set some ground rules about what is and isn’t OK to say in a blog or profile. This relates to what the child says about others as much as about themselves. What starts off as a joke or gossip can quickly escalate to cause real pain which cannot be taken back.
Police – It’s really important that you encourage your child to tell you about inappropriate or illegal activity they may come across. If they are being harassed by another user, keep the evidence and report that person’s screen name to the Social Network provider which should act on violations to its terms of service. If you suspect your child is or has been the subject of an inappropriate sexual contact or approach by another person, it’s vital that you help them keep a copy of the evidence and report it to the police via the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) website: www.ceop.gov.uk/reportabuse.