E-safety Guidance for Parents
Monitoring and regulating youngsters online can be a difficult and daunting prospect. They can so often seem to be one step ahead and there is a huge amount of peer pressure in terms of online presence and communication.
However, as schools and parents we can work together to ensure that our youngsters stay safe online by instilling good digital behaviour.
As educators we believe that understanding is the key to long-term sustainable changes in behavior. It is tempting to scare children about what they can be exposed to on the Internet, to be negative about what can be found there, and to simply try to ban them from it as a way of controlling their digital health. However long term more often than not this can have the opposite effect. It is important that our youngsters stay open and honest with us about what they are seeing, hearing and doing online. This requires a measured approach
where we are alongside the children helping them to navigate issues together so that we can model positive online behavior for them to see.
Therefore, please find below a series of suggestions taken from established organisations and literature who have programmes to try and positively engage families in self managing their digital health.
- Make sure all generic passwords (e.g. Victoria123) are changed to be secure. Make a note of all passwords for school and other accounts and keep them safe somewhere in the house. This is important if they are lost, forgotten or if you need to access anything at a later date. Make sure that no personal information is ever shared online.
- Make sure devices they use at home have got safe search settings on, for example Google and YouTube. This will prevent youngsters from stumbling across information or websites that we do not want them to.
- Also review the parental controls you will have on your home broadband. You can find out how to do this on your broadband providers websites or by contacting them directly.
- Talk to your hildren about what they are doing online and especially when they are using the Internet recreationally, try to keep the computer in a communal area so that you can keep checking in with them and what they are doing.
- Set agreed boundaries about screen time and being online. Ensure that there are regular and lengthy breaks, trying to build in screen free days where possible. It is also essential that students come off screens, including the Internet and games consoles before they try to sleep. Evidence shows that sleep can be less productive and more disturbed if students have been exposed to screen time close to when they go to bed.
- When you are in regular a normal conversation with your children, monitor their vocabulary and use of speech. If you have any concerns it could be that they are engaged in inappropriate interactions online. Try to stay calm and positive and inquire about the nature of the communication they are having online with friends. Remind them that they should not be interacting with people they don’t know online as their identification can never be verified. Try to make yourself aware of the games or websites they are using, and if they have an interactive element. You may wish to closely monitor and observe the usage of such sites or games.
- Encourage children to use a wide range of reliable sources of information. The Internet is full of rumour and fake news. We advise students to use the ABC method. Accept nothing, Believe no one , but Check everything. It is important that they start to identify websites they can go to where information is going to be authenticated and reliable so that they can avoid some of the hyperbole and overtly damaging news and stories.
- If you have major causes for concern, or it seems that your children have been exposed to or are in discussion about things that are inappropriate try to stay calm. Avoid furious responses or overtly using blame or criticism as this will lead to youngsters shutting down conversations and in future being less open about what they see and hear. Instead use the avenues of support that are available to you including ourselves here at Victoria English School where we are always happy to help and advise our families.
- Regularly consult websites, such as those in the sources and further reading section below, that exist to keep parents up to date with some of the features and developments of the more popular applications and websites that our children are using. There are often many more controls on these then we are maybe aware of.
- It may not seem like it at times, but the Internet and being online has many positives that far outweigh negatives. It is a regular part of all of our lives now. If we can consistently focus on the positives and encourage positive behavior, then this will lead to an open approach and reduce everyone’s anxiety.
Sources and Further Reading