It is almost impossible to imagine life without the internet. So many everyday tasks and activities involve hooking up to the world wide web. Sometimes, we don't even realise we are connected.
Online safety is an increasingly important part of the school curriculum. Although it is described as part of the Computing strand of the National Curriculum, we see learning about E-Safety as a crucial part of the PSHE curriculum, and a crucial lifeskill.
Online safety is taught in lessons using resources from Common Sense Media and is reinforced in whole school assemblies. We hold information sessions for parents too. We aim to provide up-to-date links to relevant advice and resources.
On this page:
We've found some websites about online safety which parents and children will find helpful.
What do we mean by online safety?
Children are exposed to a variety of potential dangers when they use the internet. We do not wish to frighten them, or unduly restrict their freedom to use the latest technology, but the ease with which they can get access to the internet means that they may unwittingly get into situations that they cannot control or that they find threatening.
It is perfectly possible to use the internet safely, if we learn safe habits and if we remain alert to the potential pitfalls. We aim to teach children the basics, but importantly we also aim to work with parents to make sure that they are well informed about safe web usage.
Technology changes very rapidly, and children tend to be far quicker to pick up on new things than adults. They are also far more creative in working out how to use new apps and devices than the adults. Communication with our children is therefore vital. The first rule of e-safety would be: encourage a habit of talking to each other about what you are doing online.
Where do children go on the internet?
When we asked children what websites they used, far and away the most popular were Google and You Tube.
Google is often the starting point for every internet adventure, and parents area advised to use Safe Search settings on all of their devices.
You Tube is full of wonderful, entertaining and educational content, but it is also packed with inappropriate material which can be disturbing. Children's use should be very closely supervised, and parents are reminded that children should NOT have their own accounts until they are 13 years old.
Vloggers are very popular - young people who post regular clips of themselves talking about.....stuff! Lots of children want to become Vloggers themselves. The most successful make thousands of pounds from advertising revenue. This sounds very tempting, but of course, very few make any money or attract any followers at all. What they may attract is unpleasant comments, which can be very distressing. Children should not be allowed to upload videos without adult consent.
What do children play?
When we asked children what games they play on their computers, tablets and phones, the most popular by far was Minecraft.
Minecraft is highly regarded as a game which develops children's creative skills and strategic thinking. Some schools use it as an educational resource, and it is very popular with children of all ages.
Minecraft can be played alone, but it really comes into its own when played as a Multi-Player Online Game (MOG). This is where parental diligence becomes really important. it is not always possible to be certain who the other players are. Parents are advised to use very strict controls when it comes to children playing with their friends, and should not allow them to accept invitations from unknown players.
Hazards of the internet
These are some of the things parents and children have told us they worry about.
- Inappropriate content: often things of a violent or sexual nature. Pornography is a particular worry.
- Online purchases: If children have access to parents' passwords or bank card details, they can easily run up large bills. Many of the games they play offer "in-app purchases".
- Personal information security: Children may not be aware that they have given permission to a website to access their personal profile, their address book, their location.
- Passwords: No password is completely secure, but there are ways of making it harder for people to guess. Passwords should never be shared, and should be changed regularly.
- Grooming: The vast majority of people you meet online will be friendly, but we read terrible stories in the media about people who use social networking and gaming sites to get access to children for undesireable purposes.
- Cyber-bullying: This appears to become an issue for a lot of young people once they have access to their own phones and social media accounts.
In school, we have strict controls on our computer systems and we can supervise children's online activities much more easily than you can at home.
Your home is probably full of devices that are connected to the internet. If you are particularly techy, your television, your hifi system and your phones and computers are all talking to each other wirelessly, not to mention dozens of other "smart" devices like watches, cameras, thermostats and even light switches.
Children may own or use devices such as:
- Handheld games (eg Nintendo DS)
- MP3 player (eg ipod)
- Tablet (eg ipad)
- E-Reader (eg Kindle)
- Games console (eg Playstation)
- Smart watch
- Laptop or computer
They will be connected to the internet either through your home broadband network, or through a phone signal - possibly both. It is possible to set controls on all these devices (for example, time limits, filters, limited permissions) but it is not always easy to find out how to do so.
The UK Safer Internet Centre has an excellent Parents' Guide To Technology
Even if you have set up parental controls, you should still monitor children's online activities and limit the amount of time they spend in front of a screen.
Online Safety Resources
Links and downloads to help us all stay safe online