The online world is a wonderful place for young people to explore, with unprecedented opportunities for learning and creativity, but just like the real world there are risks and dangers they should be aware of and which we should all act to protect them from. As a school we encourage the use of technology as an important part of our students’ development but always want them to spend their time online safely. As a parent or carer you can play a significant part in ensuring this.
Just a few simple steps by you can help keep them safe and give young people the awareness to know what to do if they feel uncomfortable about anything they encounter while on the internet.
If you do not wish for your child to be able to access any inappropriate content online, please ensure that their computers, laptops and other devices with internet access are all fitted with parental controls.
You can find free downloadable versions online or you can contact your internet service provider (such as BT, Talk Talk, Sky) for more information.
As a minimum, please consider setting parental controls on your search engines, youtube account and the mobile phone your child uses. One of the most popular search engines in the world is Google.
You can visit Google’s informative safety centre for simple step by step guides
Here are a few options available to you; they truly are simple to set, promise.
Visit the Google home page – www.google.co.uk and click on the ‘search setting’ tab in the top right hand corner.
Scroll down the page and change the filtering options to suit your family’s needs. Make sure you lock the safe search; otherwise these settings can easily be changed without your knowledge.
Please be aware that no filter is 100% accurate. CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) advise that you talk to your child about the sites they use. Why don’t you discuss:
- Their favourite online sites
- What they enjoy most, the fun aspects of being online?
- What they think can go wrong?
- How would they react if things got out of control?
For additional advice, please see the attached online safety checklist from CEOP.
Resources for Parents
I am acutely aware of the challenges schools face in ensuring children stay safe online, and I wanted to make sure you are aware of a great free online safety resource. Internet Matters, who already provide many resources for parents on their website www.internetmatters.org has developed a new resource hub specifically for education professionals that provides access to a range of resources to support schools with this challenge.
The hub provides a one-stop shop for schools giving access to a range of resources that include a communications pack for use with parents, and recommended providers of whole school programmes, classroom resources, policy documents and training programmes.
Parent Communications Pack:
Click here to view pack.
This provides your school with a range of resources designed to help schools talk to parents about online safety. Research shows that schools are the most popular place for parents to seek help with online safety issues, and the Internet Matters website gives you a range of resources to help educate and inform parents. The Parent Communications Pack includes:
- Free apps to help parents talk about online safety
- Presentations for parents evening
- Downloadable age specific online safety guides
- Guides to social media
- Newsletters covering topical issues
- Posters & banners for use in school or on your website
Access to a selection of recommended classroom resources & school programmes that cover a range of topical issues from the leading providers of online safety classroom resources.
Together with digital parenting experts ParentZone, Google have developed the Internet Legends code, which gives primary schools a great way to educate younger children about online safety. Click here for more information.
You can filter explicit search results on Google using the SafeSearch setting. SafeSearch is not 100% accurate, but it helps you avoid explicit content. You can use SafeSearch as to help protect children from inappropriate search results on your phone, tablet, or computer. Simply go to Google search settings to turn it on or read more here.
This app provides a safer YouTube experience for young people to watch their favourite programmes or explore anything that captures their imagination. It is free, simple to use and full of family-friendly videos. Download it from Google Play or the App Store here.
The internet provides a wealth of opportunities for children of today but as parents, carers, teachers, and members of parliament we need to help equip children with the right tools and skills so we can ensure they are safe and smart online. Let us work together to get parents and children engaged in online safety.