Holiday tips to share with parents to help children to avoid online risks
As wonderful as the Internet can be for helping our children to learn new things, and connect with relatives throughout the globe, it also opens up a range of new potential threats that we, as teachers, need to protect them from.
Thanks to the popularity of social media and communication-based websites, cyber bullying has grown increasingly common over the recent years with *thousands of children in the UK affected.
You can’t monitor a child’s behaviour in the online world at all times, particularly so during school holidays, so what can parents do to help protect your pupils against the threats that plague the Internet today? We spoke to Rebekah Carter from Broadband Genie about some of the steps parents can take to keep kids safe online.
Step 1: Speak to Your Child
First and foremost, the fight against cyber bullying requires parents to maintain an open, and honest path of communication with their children. Parents should make sure that their kids know that they can speak to them if they’re feeling threatened by anyone, or anything when they’re browsing the Internet, and ensure that they’re aware that parents aren’t going to blame them for any problems, or overreact to an issue.
The more comfortable their children are with the idea of speaking to them, the more likely it is that they will be able to address an issue of cyber bullying in its earliest stages - before the problem is allowed to progress.
Step 2: Supervise Where You Can
Many parents pay close attention to what their children do throughout the day - including who they play with at school, and what extracurricular activities they are involved in. So why not get involved with their cyber-lives too? They can find out which social networks their children use and friend or follow them so that parents can carefully supervise who they talk to, and what they do.
Parents should make sure however, to not smother their children with constant supervision, otherwise children may start using fake accounts and sites without their knowledge in an attempt to avoid their parent’s constant presence.
Step 3: Work with Schools and Set Limits
Most schools work to teach children about the threat of real-world bullies, and how they should deal with bullies if they are ever approached by one. Parents should tell the administrators and teachers in the school if they’re concerned about the issue of cyber bullying or other online threats, teachers can then ensure that the matter is addressed in assemblies and classes where possible.
What’s more, remember that the more unrestricted, and unsupervised access their kids get to Internet-accessible devices, the more likely they are to fall victim to cyber bullying, as they’re actively increasing their online presence. To reduce the chances that their children will suffer as a result of the behaviour of other children, they can set some limits. For instance, parents might restrict use of a laptop to after-dinner hours, and ensure that social media usage occurs in shared areas of the home, rather than behind closed doors.
Parents might also consider setting up instant-messaging or texting filters so that younger children are only permitted to communicate with close friends and family members, or use a shared account for emails so they can watch what comes in, and what goes out.
Young people spend a considerable amount of time online at home, with the latest Ofcom report stating that in 2015 close to nine in in ten 8-11s (91%) and nearly all 12-15s (96%) have Internet access at home. While the Internet is a fabulous source of entertainment and knowledge, it is essential that parents understand how to harness this resource to protect their children online.
*Figures from the NSPCC claim that there were 7,296 counselling sessions with young people who talked to Childline about online bullying and safety last year.
If you would like further support on engaging parents, E-safety Support members can assess a bank of parental engagement resources including an online parent training course which can be issued via email and allows parents to take the course at a time to suit them.