Students at CoDA use ICT regularly as part of their learning. Due to the advent of modern technology, particularly internet-ready smart phones, it is recognised that lines between use of the Internet at home and school are becoming increasingly blurred. Content that the school considers inappropriate is blocked in school, but this does not prevent students accessing it from mobile devices at home or on their way to and from school.
Because of the wide range of devices that can be used to access it, banning the Internet is not practical. We try and give our students the tools and understanding with which to keep safe.
Social Networking and Personal Information
Technology creates a public space where we can all network, engage and challenge. As with any public space, there are risks associated of which everyone should take precautions to minimise:
Online Safety Tips:
- Ensure privacy settings are turned on so that only friends and family can see your personal information.
- Never give out personal information, such as date of birth, real name, address, telephone number, online.
- Only ‘friend’ people online that you know in the real world.
- Use a nickname rather than your real name when registering online.
- Do not post videos/images of your school, work place or home that could be used to identify your location.
- Never arrange to meet anyone in person that you only know online.
- When registering on web sites, give the minimum amount of information required.
- Ensure you have anti-virus software installed and updated.
The tips above have been around for a number of years. More recently, the increase in the use of mobile applications, or ‘apps’, has meant that dangers have moved closer to home. Unfortunately, young people can get involved in risky behaviour in their own homes, as the stories below indicate:
Facebook and many other social networking sites have a minimum age limit of 13 for registration. However, many children lie about their age in order to create a profile and those who do not use Facebook particularly are in the minority in every year group in school. It should be noted that entering a false age in order to access social networking sites risks being exposed to inappropriate content.
For those that have registered it is vital that they apply privacy settings to prevent access to their personal information by people they do not know. Facebook have developed a privacy guide that enables users to discover exactly how their data is used and control how users share content, including how to change privacy settings. Twitter also has help pages to keep users safe online as do most other social networking platforms.
During their Computing lessons, students look at what personal information is safe/not safe to share. Simple information such as first name or county of residence is considered relatively safe whilst other information is less safe such as surname, school attended or contact details. We would particularly discourage the posting of pictures of children in school uniform as the school and, potentially, individual students could be located through the badge by any persons wishing to cause harm to a child.
When using the internet, we are all leaving a trail of information. This could be through web sites we sign up to, comments we post or dozens of other things. This is known as a “digital footprint” and is being increasingly used by employers and further education providers to assess the character of the young people applying to them. Comments and images posted years previously can be found and may possibly affect future education or employment prospects. When considering the posting of comments or uploading of images, a general rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t print something on a T-shirt and walk through Derby with it clearly on display then it is probably not safe or appropriate to post online.
What can you do?
The number 1 tip for keeping your child safe is to talk to them. I know this can be difficult, particularly with teenagers, but encourage them to talk to you about what they’re doing with technology, even ask them to teach you! Try and not be intimidated by the technology and be as open with your child as possible. Other tips include
- Discuss any worries or concerns your child may have in an open and non-judgemental way.
- Remind them to keep personal information safe.
- Set a good example. Explain why you are protecting your information and pictures.
- Use strong passwords (see the advice in the eSafety guide above).
- Discourage them from “collecting friends”. Only be friends online with people you know offline – it’s the quality of friends, not the quantity, which counts.
- Let your child use you as an excuse to be safe if they need to. Saving face with their peers by blaming Mum or Dad may give the child space to do what is right.
CEOP have produced a video guides for parents and carers. Take a look at the resources at CEOPs Thinkuknow web site
Social Media Reporting Tools:
Unfortunately many other social networking apps do not make reporting inappropriate use straightforward. As always, extreme care should be taken to avoid sharing any personal information online. Any suspicions of criminal activity should be reported to the police.
Other Useful Links:
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
- CEOPs Thinkuknow web site
- Video Game ratings
- Safer Internet Day
- Parental advice for Facebook, Instagram and Social Media
- Childnet (lots of useful resources)
- NSPPC Online Safety Pages
Please Note – CoDA is not responsible for the content of external sites.