It’s undeniable that the internet can provide an incredible opportunity for learning and exploration. Used properly, and safely, it gives our children knowledge, enjoyment, and the capability to develop new skills. Even though the positives are plentiful, as a parent, you’re bound to have e-safety on the mind. For a young child, the internet is mainly about online games and getting answers to questions, they may not fully understand the dangers of using the internet, threats such as viruses, privacy risks, or cyberbullying, to name a few. For these reasons, it is essential to have a clear internet safety plan in and out of school. Here are Oasis Community Learning’s top tips for internet safety:
Have a conversation
Keeping track of what your child is doing online is very important. One way you can do this is by regularly talking to them about how they use technology. Carefully listening to your child will give you a good idea of how you can support them. Not sure where to begin? Have you thought about asking what their favourite sites are, or how using the internet makes them feel? For older children, a gentle reminder of good internet safety practices can be brought into the conversation. It is always a good idea too to set boundaries with your child about what the internet can be used for at home.
Spend time on the internet together
Do you and your child spend time on the internet together? For both parent and child, it is an advantage to discover the internet together. Try to find websites or games that are exciting and fun. Introduce new ‘child-friendly’ websites to them, such as search engines ‘Swiggle’ or ‘Kids-Search’. Together, you can create a positive shared experience of being online and a positive attitude towards the internet. In the future, this could make it easier for them to share negative experiences. It’s also a great way for them to actively show you what types of websites they’re visiting.
Support your child
It can feel like young people are experts in anything digital. However, as parents, you are the life experts! You can take steps supporting your child by using features such as privacy settings on social media platforms and understanding how to report on apps, games, and other services. Encourage them to use their phones or apps in a communal area like the lounge or kitchen to help you keep an eye on their safety, and they feel supported in their use of devices.
Set up parental controls
You can set up parent controls without reaching into your wallet. In other words, you don’t have to purchase expensive parental control software to protect your child while they are on the internet. There are already many helpful tools built into your device and internet browser. Find tutorials here to help you make the most out of built-in parental controls and privacy settings.
Teach your child about privacy on the internet.
Encourage your child to be careful when revealing personal information on the internet. The simple but most important rule for younger children should be that they should never give out names, images, phone numbers, or addresses without their parent’s consent. Older children who use Snapchat, Facebook, or Instagram platforms should be selective about what information they choose to share and what is in the background of their images. Once any material is online, you cannot always control who has access to it.
Spotting the false information online
Help your child to understand where they can find reputable sources of news and information online – stick to well known educational websites, or news outlets. With social media, it’s also very easy to fall into the trap of believing photoshopped images are real – particularly when it comes to selfies and posed photography. Help your children out by sharing with them open and honest posts about how photographs are manipulated for ‘influence’ or likes. Need extra help? Here’s a BBC article with some guidance.
There are many positives about the internet
Remember that the positive aspects of the internet can overweigh the negatives. The internet is an excellent educational resource for children. Social media has been found to have positive impacts on communication, giving us the opportunity to connect and share support. You may have heard about the new Oasis Horizons scheme where every Oasis student will be provided with an iPad to give them access to enhanced online learning. If together, we can teach our young people to roam safely online, and by putting in safeguarding measures of our own, the opportunities for learning are endless.
Don’t forget, if you’d like extra help or support with e-safety at home, you can talk to your academy Safeguarding lead.