The Internet Is Good!
Whether it’s used for finding out information on an ancient civilisation, exploring a distant country in virtual reality or just doing your shopping without leaving your living room, the internet is a wonderful tool and great asset to our community. Learning to use it safely, therefore, has to be a cornerstone of the education of our children.
One of the most important aspects of learning to be safe online is ensuring a consistent message from all involved. With that in mind, we have created this page to help you at home to understand the message that we give children within school. We hope you find it useful but, as always, please come and talk to us if you have any questions!
Did you know that 1 in 3 of all internet users are now under the age of 18? This means that it’s more important than ever to teach our children how to stay safe – they will soon represent the majority of the digital citizens!
Did you know that it is illegal for children between the ages of 16 and 18 to send or receive explicit images of each other? Even though they are above the age of consent in the UK, it is against the law to possess such images if either party is below the age of 18. Not many children realise this when questioned!
Did you know that CEOP received over 22,000 reports in 2015? You won’t be alone in making a report – even if you think it might seem silly or an over-reaction, it is always worth seeking support if your instinct is telling you that something isn’t right.
Did you know that CEOP helped to safeguard over 2,200 children between 2006 and 2013? CEOP are always a great source of information whether you want to make a report or just look for resources as a parent to act pro-actively towards educating yourself and your children.
What do I do if I have a concern?
You have lots of options if you are concerned about somebody’s behaviour online. It doesn’t matter if you have experienced negative behaviour towards you or somebody that you know or if you have stumbled on something online that you don’t think you should have, you can report it using any of these options. We can all recommend another service if we think it might be more appropriate but the most important think is that you are taking the steps to report it.
If you are a child then a really good place to report anything is your parents or another trusted adult; especially if you have looked at something on the internet that you don’t think you should be seeing. That way they can make sure that you are safe before looking at what to do next.
Adults and children can also:
- Talk to a teacher in school, we will talk to you about what might have happened and what we can do next.
- CEOP – Child Explotation and Online Protection – A division of the police force and a fantastic resource for parents and schools alike.
- Call 101 and talk to the police; they are more than happy to talk through any worries and are in a great position to act if needed.
Remember, the important thing is to tell somebody is your instinct is telling you something isn’t right. You might not be the first person to report somebody’s actions and a small incident to you might form part of a bigger picture to the authorities.
How do I know if something is appropriate?
We all know about the age ratings on films released in the UK, but how do we monitor whether information online and in games is appropriate for our children?
For games, the industry regulatory sytem is the PEGI system that gives games a rating similar to the way that the BBFC classifies films. These ratings are always provided on the case of games bought in shops and should be provided on any website selling digital copies of the game; for instance games purchased through Steam. These, like those on films, should be considered a true reflection of the content of the game and parents should always try to play any game they are buying for their child if they are considering ignoring the rating.
Always consider the two “Why” questions:
- Why has this game been given a higher rating?
- Why does my child want to play it?
If you are still unsure then check out the reviews at CommonSenseMedia; they will tell you why a game is rated at that level and what you can expect if you let your child play it.
Did you know that watching a violent and innapropriate game can often be as damaging and worrying for a child as playing it themselves?
Did you know that you can watch other people playing games on YouTube? Not only can children watch the same violent or innapropriate action that a PEGI 18+ game contains, they can also listen in to the often aggressive and obscene language that the gamers are using towards each other.
These videos are often not categorised as adult by YouTube and so SafeMode may not filter them out.
ThinkUKnow – a subsection of CEOP with amazing resources for parents.
Internet Matters – another great source of information and “how to…” guides for parents.
Parent Info – good information for all from CEOP
NSPCC – online safety information for parents from the NSPCC.
Common Sense Media – for information about game and film ratings.
Alan Mackenzie – an esafety adviser with a good quality digital newsletter for parents.
Trust is key.
We need to show our children that we trust them to make sensible decisions online whilst also making it clear that we need to continue protecting them. Until a child reaches the age of 18 then their parents or guardians are responsible for them online as much as offline. There is nothing wrong in checking in with their online activity and having a good handle on what they are doing and who they are communicating with.
Remember though, we are trusting them to come to us if they have any concerns or worries about the activity of themselves or others online. They are unlikely to do this if they do not trust our intentions. If they understand that you will be checking their Facebook friend list or messages on a weekly basis and, more importantly, understand why you are doing, then they are hopefully more likely to report any concerns than if they find out we have been checking in secret.