Without question, the most impactful online safety education comes from home. We cannot prevent children from accessing the internet and all parental controls/restrictions have their limitations. Children need to feel safe in discussing online safety issues with their parents and it is the role of the school to enable children to feel safe discussing internet safety issues at school too.
A recent survey has shown that 77% of children want their parents to be there for them if something worries them or happens to them on the internet. It is important that as parents and educators we react calmly to online safety incidents and that our first instinct is to make children feel safe not scared in these situations.
We recommend that the most important step parents can make is to have regular conversations with their children about internet usage and how to be safe online, but a few additional steps we can suggest are:
It is the role of the school to provide children with an effective, reactive Online Safety curriculum. As a school we follow guidance from the UK Council for Child Internet Safety and the Education for a Connected World framework (2020) alongside resources provided by Common Sense Media and Internet Matters.
Online safety education will be provided to pupils in the following ways:
Due to the national restrictions that took place this year, there has been an increase in the amount of screen time children are having. Online games, social media and video chat programs provided opportunities for children to connect and play with their friends, parents and relatives and will continue as restrictions have been lifted. While children aged 13 and older may already be familiar with social media, the pandemic has introduced younger children to social networking tools that may not be designed for them and for which they may have limited preparation.
With this in mind, we would like to update you with some of the safeguarding concerns we have become aware of and signpost you to good, trusted websites where you can learn more.
We have noticed a notable rise in children using apps which are not age appropriate. In particular:
TikTok (age 16)
WhatsApp (age 16)
Instagram (age 13)
Fortnite (age 12)
We have become aware or children playing games which include scenes of horror (Five Nights at Freddy’s – age 12) and watching films with an 18 rating too. We strongly encourage you to regularly check in and monitor your child’s online activity so that children are not being exposed to unnecessary stress or find themselves in a position where they don’t feel safe. Agreeing on a time limit for screen time can also help children to become more aware take more control of their time online.
National Online Safety’s top tips for checking and monitoring age ratings:
1) Do your research
If you’ve noticed a new game that your child has downloaded then use quality resources to make sure that your knowledge is up to date. Online websites, such as National Online Safety, can provide you with the information you need.
2) Review parental controls
Review your parental controls on the stores where you buy games from. Most sites allow parents to set passwords to block games with certain age restrictions from being downloaded.
3) Encourage open dialogue
Encourage open dialogue with your child. You don’t want to be in position where they won’t talk to you if something has made them feel uncomfortable in a game because they are worried they will get in trouble for playing the game in the first place.
4) Discuss ratings
Talk to your child about why the game has been awarded a certain label. Debate the positives and negatives of playing a game and decide on some ground rules together - please visit https://pegi.info for more information on suitable video games and their age ratings.
Websites with further information for parents, carers and young people:
Warwickshire County Council Websites:
Online Gaming Information & Support
Each week National Online Safety share top tips for parents and carers around apps, games, social media, mental health, online safety and internet controls. Every fortnight we will send a copy of their #WakeUpWednesday campaign. These online safety user guides are a great way to support your child in staying safe online. Please see https://nationalonlinesafety.com for more information.
To register your National Online Safety Account follow the link below.
Talking about the online world with your child can be difficult, and some topics can be particularly awkward; for you and your child! As a result of this, NOS have put together a series of 7 questions that will help you start an initial conversation with your child, so you have a better understanding of what they do online and how you can protect them. Additionally, it’s important to note that regular conversations with your child about the Internet will help your child to build confidence when talking about online issues, and therefore help to build trust too. You can use this to create your own family online agreement.