What is Online Safety?
Online Safeguarding, Online Safety, Digital Safety, e-Safety and Internet Safety are all terms used to describe staying safe online. As a school, Cobbs Brow has always placed high priority on safeguarding our children. Through lessons provided at school, assemblies and PSHE lessons, we provide our children with the awareness and knowledge they need in order to avoid dangers and keep themselves safe. However, it is only through a collaborative effort between parents and teachers that we will succeed in creating responsible and safe internet users.
The internet has become an integral part of our and our children’s lives. The online world is ever expanding and can create many positive opportunities. Children start using computers and other communication technologies from a very early age and are increasingly using the internet more and more whether it is at home, in school, on their mobile phones or on a games console. With this in mind, Online Safety and knowing how to help protect children and young people online is essential.
Just as we want to keep our child safe in the real world, we will want to do the same in the virtual world. It is important that we understand enough about the online world to keep our children safe from harm but is equally important that we equip our children with the skills they need to keep themselves safe so they can experience the internet positively and responsibly.
What is social media?
Social media is a computer-based technology that allows the sharing of ideas and information and the building of virtual networks and communities. By design, social media is internet based and offers users easy electronic communication of personal information and other content, such as videos and photos. Users engage with social media via computer, tablet or smartphone via web-based software or web application, often utilising it for messaging.
Most teens and some children use some form of social media and have a profile on a social networking site. Many visit these sites every day. There are plenty of good things about social media — but also many risks and things children and teens should avoid. They don’t always make good choices when they post something to a site, and this can lead to problems. So it is important to talk with your children about how to use social media wisely.
Social Media Accounts
Please remember, children need to be at least 13 if not older to have one of these accounts.
- Instagram – an online mobile photo sharing, video sharing and social networking service which enables its users to take pictures and videos and share them on a variety of social networking platforms. This also allows for group chats, of which poor language is being used.
- Facebook – a social networking site. The timelines on this are not monitored and harmful and inappropriate content is likely to appear on children’s accounts.
- WhatsApp – an instant messaging app for smartphones. The user agreement requires users to be age 16 or older.
- Snapchat – an app that sends a picture to a person for up to 10 seconds. Users can screenshot these images and save them. The user agreement requires users to be age 18 or older.
- YouTube– The user agreement requires people creating channels to be age 13 or older. There is a kid friendly version of YouTube called YouTube Kids, it has a lot of the same content, but it does a filter out a lot of unwanted material.
Children are often creating ‘groups’ to which others are joining. This means that all information is shared with anyone who is in the group, so privacy is lost, and, in some cases, strangers have been added to the groups.
What’s Good About Social Media
Social media can help to:
• stay connected with friends and family
• volunteer or get involved with a campaign, nonprofit, or charity
• enhance their creativity by sharing ideas, music, and art
• meet and interact with others who share similar interests
• communicate with educators and fellow students
What’s Bad About Social Media
The flipside is that social media can be a hub for things like cyberbullying and questionable activities. Without meaning to, children can share more online than they should.
• post photos of themselves online or use their real names on their profiles
• reveal their birthdates and interests
• post their school name and the town where they live
This can make them easy targets for online predators and others who might mean them harm.
Concerns and Consequences
Besides problems like cyberbullying and online predators, children also can face the possibility of a physical encounter with the wrong person. Many newer apps automatically reveal the poster’s location when they’re used. This can tell anyone exactly where to find the person using the app. And photos, videos, and comments made online usually can’t be taken back once they’re posted. Even when a child or teen thinks something has been deleted, it can be impossible to completely erase it from the Internet.
Sending a mean-spirited text, even as a joke, can be very hurtful to someone else and even taken as a threat. Spending too much time on social media can be a downer too. Seeing how many “friends” others have and the pictures of them having fun can make children feel bad about themselves or like they don’t measure up to their peers.
What Can Parents Do?
It’s important to be aware of what your children do online. The key is to stay involved in a way that makes your children understand that you respect their privacy but want to make sure they’re safe.
When accessing social media tell your children that it’s important to:
Be nice. Mean behaviour is not OK. Make it clear that you expect your child to treat others with respect, and to never post hurtful or embarrassing messages. And ask them to always tell you about any harassing or bullying messages that others post.
Think twice before hitting “enter.” Remind children that what they post can be used against them. For example, letting the world know that you’re off on holiday or posting your home address gives would-be robbers a chance to strike.
Follow the “WWGS?” (What Would Grandma Say?) rule. Teach children not to share anything on social media that they wouldn’t want their teachers, family members — and yes, grandma — to see.
Use privacy settings. Privacy settings are important. Go through them together to make sure your children understand each one. Also, explain that passwords are there to protect them against things like identity theft. They should never share them with anyone, even a best friend.
Don’t “friend” strangers. “If you don’t know them, don’t friend them.” This is a plain, simple — and safe — rule of thumb.