12 Jan

Getting your child started online.

Children will be online. There really is no way to avoid it. And, as they get online they will need an account or a profile for games, apps and even just for browsing on some sites. Then, as they get older, social media. To support this it’s a good idea to model the use of the internet and to support your child whilst they get used to managing their own accounts and their own online presence. But where to start?

Usernames

We talk about usernames in school. We discuss how you don’t want to give any personal information away in your name. You need a username that is not offensive and is simple.

Many people choose their first name and some numbers, or a nickname and children need to be warned of the danger of this. First names can be problematic. Not only can they identify you easily if names are spelt in an unusual way but they also give a sense of familiarity which may mean some children find it difficult to remember they are talking to strangers. A child may say they want to use their real name so they can find their friends. Some platforms offer the chance to let contacts know your real name separately – make sure you talk to your child about this before they do it. We always suggest that children only add as ‘friends’ those contacts that they know in real life.

Email addresses

To start with use a family email address so you can keep track of account registrations and any other agreements that go with it.

Schools may use email addresses for children for internal mail to get them used to the process of usernames / passwords etc. – and so as a family sharing email addresses is a good way to introduce your child to this. It also allows you to model use and to introduce the child to email etiquette. Staying in touch with far-flung relatives maybe or just emailing thank-you notes at birthdays. Most social media sites have a minmum age for sign up and so use this as a rule of thumb for email addressses too.

Friends

Always start with the premise that children should know their online friends in real life. Encourage this and talk to children about what they use to talk to friends and how they act online.

However, as we know, meeting people out of your bubble is a big plus of the internet and so, as they get older, the need to understand not to give too much information away. In a lesson we did once we found that children were pretty savvy about their own address, real name and family but not so good with their school. Children would give details out about where school was, or how they get to school particularly if it was another child they were speaking to. There has to be a fine line with trust and looking after your information. So use this a a discussion point. Do they really need to know how you got to school this morning?

Finally use these conversations as a way to set boundaries – once children are managing their own accounts or setting up their own games they will inevitably find themselves being advertised to. Being savvy about adverts and about what you can and can’t download is a big subject, but if you are able to be open about this early on it will hopefully prevent future problems.

And don’t forget there is lots of help online with specific apps, platforms and games. You can take a look here for more information.

02 Jun

Supporting Parents with e-Safety

Childnet

A post I’ve been meaning to do for a while – as I enjoy delivering workshops with parents for e-safety. There is lots of support for schools in delivering the e-safety curriculum – I look at this here, however, many  parents can be confused by the advice, and schools can be a great ‘first port of call’ for any concerns.  Make your advice on e-safety as clear as possible – and share this with parents. Coffee mornings, evenings, parents invited to assemblies even events led by your Pupil Digital Leaders. I have even share You Tube Clips of some of Playstation / X Box Games with parents so they can see what they look like! 

 

 

A web page with information for parents is also crucial – and share links on there as well.  I also think that it may be necessary to spend time actually looking at what devices children have at home – and what you can do to make sure they are safe. Remember appropiate training for staff, governors and parents should be at least an annual event! I can throughly recommend the Esafety Adviser Site for helpful ideas, and training.

 

Top tips for parents:

  • Talk to your child about their use of the internet! Be part of what they are doing…
  • Make sure you know what devices connect to the internet and how.
  •  Set boundaries! Be clear about how long they can be online and what they can do online.
  • Keep all equipment that connects to the internet in a family space.
  • Don’t forget though: Encourage your child to go online and explore! There is a wealth of age-appropriate sites online for your children. Encourage them to use sites which are fun, educational and that will help them to develop online skills. They can have a play at this site.
  • Don’t let them lie about their age, most social media sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat) are not for children under 13.  There is more guidance here

 

More resources:

Get Safer Online also covers many aspects on online security such as online banking, identity theft and keeping children safe.

There is a great Digital Parenting guide from Vodafone here – this contains details of setting up mobile phones with parental controls and how to use safety modes on other apps and services.

Reminding parents of the nature of Social Networking sites – a great childine leaflet can be downloaded here.

What every parent needs to know about Video Games – the Guardian Guide

If you have a child who is due to start Secondary School find more information here.

Remember – Internet Service Providers (such as Virgin, BT, Sky and PlusNet) all have parental controls which you need to ‘switch on’ – just contact your provider, or take a look at these videos here.