The Internet has become an integral part of children’s lives, enabling them to undertake research for school projects, talk to their friends and access information from around the world. Increasing provision of the Internet in and out of schools brings with it the need to ensure that children are safe.
Internet development is constantly evolving into ever more innovative areas with many websites enabling amazing creativity and interaction between peers. Unfortunately though, there are times when Internet use can have a negative effect on children. Schools and Parents need to be aware of the potential dangers and take measures to ensure safe usage by all.
At school we take several steps to ensure that children are kept safe while using the internet and electronic communication.
Some of the steps that we take are…
Filtering is used to prevent access to websites that are not suitable or may be dangerous.
Internet access is supervised and monitored.
A controlled email system is used where steps are taken to block unsuitable emails and monitor possible cyber bullying.
Children are also taught how to use the Internet and technology safely so that they can keep themselves safe.
Parents can have a difficult job keeping up with their children on the fast changing technology available to them, let alone knowing the dangers they face. The issues of safety, privacy, on-line predators and cyber bullying are sometimes complex, both technically and psychologically and parents can struggle to keep up.
Here are a few tips:
If you have a computer, keep it in a shared area – Talk to your child about what they are doing online and, if possible, set up your computer in a shared area at home so that you can always see what sites are being visited.
Facebook and all other Social Media Sites – As you will be aware many of these sites have a minimum age limit of 13, so our pupils should not be using them.
Google Safe Search – This is designed to screen sites that contain sexually explicit content and remove them from your search results. While no filter is 100% accurate, SafeSearch helps you avoid content you may prefer not to see or would rather your children did not stumble across.
Explore e-safety sites – There are lots of useful e-safety sites. They are great fun to explore, so why not browse through them with your children?
If you buy a new device for your child, look at the manual that came with it as these normally contain some information and a step by step guide on how to install parental controls. You could also type the name of the device plus parental controls into a search engine eg. ‘Nintendo DSi + parental controls’. This can help you to find how-to guides and useful video tutorials.
Mobile devices can connect to the Internet in 3 different ways:
- 3G/4G: this provides access to the Internet when you’re on the go, and is often provided as part of your mobile phone contract. Filters are often set up by default, but you can check with your mobile operator to ensure they are activated for your children’s devices.
- Connect to your home wifi: devices can connect to the Internet at home (and this saves using up your 3G/4G data allowance). All of the major Internet providers offer free filtering tools that work across all devices connected to the home network, check with your ISP.
- Access public wifi: it’s also possible to connect to public wifi when you’re out and about, with shops, cafes and restuarants increasingly offering internet access. Look out for the Friendly WiFi symbol which means the content has been filtered.
Download the Durham County Council e-Safety guide here