The internet opens up a whole new world of learning opportunities for children, but it does have dangers that parents need to be aware of.
At Oak View Academy, we have measures in place to ensure our children use digital technology in the most positive and educational way; full details of our internet and digital safety policy are available to view in school.
As parents, it is important to keep track of what your child is doing online to help them learn from it and, most importantly, to keep them safe.
If you have any concerns about your child’s use of digital technology, the guidelines below will help you to put appropriate boundaries in place.
If you believe your child is being exposed to dangers online, speak to a teacher, who will help put you in touch with professionals who can help.
Be clear what your child can and can’t do online – where they can use the internet and how much time they can spend. Establish the sites they can visit and the type of information they can share.
The best way to find out what your child is doing online is to ask them. If they’re happy to, ask them to show you. Talk to them about being a good friend online.
Put yourself in control
Install parental controls on your home broadband and any internet-enabled devices. Set up a user account for your child and make sure other accounts in the household are password-protected.
Use airplane mode
Use airplane mode on your devices when your child is using them so they can’t make any unapproved purchases or interact with anyone online without your knowledge.
Encourage them to use their devices in a communal area like the lounge or kitchen so you can keep an eye on how they’re using the internet..
Talk to siblings
It’s a good idea to talk to older children about what they’re doing online and what they show to younger children. Encourage them to be responsible and help keep younger siblings safe.
Use safe search engines such as Swiggle or Kids-search. You can save time by adding these to your ‘favourites’. Safe search settings can also be activated on Google and other search engines, as well as YouTube.
Check if it’s suitable
The age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks are a good guide to whether they’re suitable for your child. For example, the minimum age limit is 13 for social networking sites including Facebook and Instagram.
For guidance on setting up the correct privacy settings on social networking sites, such as Facebook, or for more information on social networking, visit the NSPCC website.
Texting and instant messaging
Once children reach their pre-teen and teenage years, they usually begin texting and instant messaging and sending pictures and videos through computers and mobile devices. Make sure your child understands that pictures sent to a friend could end up in the hands of all their classmates.
Meeting ‘friends’ in person
Teach your children never meet anyone in person that they’ve only previously communicated with online. It might not be enough to simply tell your child not to talk to strangers, because your child might not consider someone they’ve ‘met’ online to be a stranger.
Visit Think You Know for more detailed information on these matters, how to set up parental controls or tips and advice about limiting time spent using digital technology.