Most of us drive a car and value the benefits of doing so and also understand that driving is dangerous. The internet is a similarly valuable resource, but we all need to learn how better to keep ourselves and others safe while using it.
In terms of the "real" world, parents will allow children to play outside where they can be seen; perhaps in the front garden. Eventually when the parent is comfortable the child may be allowed to play further afield, out of sight and be away for longer periods. The assumption that your child is not at any risk because they are playing on their computer in the bedroom is a significant risk. Furthermore, rightly or wrongly, parents expect schools to "teach" children safe use of the Internet, whilst not empowering themselves with the knowledge to keep their own children safe at home.
Grooming / Sexting
Children will be befriended by people they meet online in social media or through multi-player online games. They and you cannot know who those people are. They may wish to sexually exploit the child either by gaining their trust and arranging to meet in person or persuading them to send indecent images of themselves.
Cyberbullying / Trolling
Cyberbullying is the greatest concern for children. 1 in 3 children have been bullied online. 1 in 3 bullied children develop a mental health problem such as depression, self-harm or suicide. Bullies and bullied may be the same person.
Desensitisation / Influence
Exposure of children to non-age appropriate material could result in them being influenced or desensitised by it. What views are people expressing that your children are consuming? Are they views you would want your children to develop?
Criminals seek to gain enough information about you in order to impersonate you and gain access to your online activities. Most often this is in order to steal money from you.
What we do at West Croft:
We aim not scare or panic our children but give them the necessary skills and knowledge to make the most of the invaluable resource that is the internet.
All staff have received training in Online Safety. Pupils are taught using KidSMART resources throughout their time at West Croft, reinforced in Computing, PSHE and other lessons. Internet access at school is filtered by South West Grid for Learning. Pupils are not allowed unsupervised access to the internet.
What you can do at home:
The most important thing is to talk to your children and for them to feel that they can talk to you about anything that upsets or worries them that happens online.
Do not rely on internet filtering, but do use it. All Internet Service Providers now MUST offer filtering options. Your ISP will be able to tell you how to set up the filtering. You should monitor the filtering and discuss with your children what settings to use.
We would recommend that you take advantage of our Online Safety training course. This is the same training as all staff have undertaken. You were sent a letter home with the login information, but if you need it again please contact the school office. We are not able to post the login details here.
In the UK, if you come across illegal (or suspected illegal) websites or content these should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundationwww.iwf.org.uk. If you, or a child, come across a website which you think may have illegal content, NEVER investigate, NEVER forward content.
Reports about suspicious behaviour towards children and young people in an online environment should be made to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) www.ceop.police.uk. Law enforcement agencies and the service providers may need to take urgent steps to locate the child and/or remove the content.
Basic Online Safety:
- Be careful where you post personal information and what you post.
- Never post things like your mobile phone number, age, address, school, where your parents go to work.
- Never post pictures of yourself, family or friends without permission.
- Always treat information with a pinch of salt. Not all information on the Internet is correct. Research!
- Never give out passwords or login details to anyone else.
- Never arrange to meet someone in the real world that you have met from the Internet. Talk to your parents first.
- Never respond to messages that are mean or hurtful. Tell your parents.
- Use a nickname on social networking.
- Learn what security settings are available, learn how to use them, and use them.
- Most important be vigilant, don't think, "It will never happen to me".