With many children now having access to a range of electronic devices which are increasingly important in their lives it can be tough to know how to keep them safe. At Andrews Lane we aim to provide our children with the skills they need to use technology effectively and with the knowledge they need to do so safely. We have regular eSafety lessons as part of our computing curriculum with all children from an early age and staying safe online is considered by teachers when planning all lessons. Below we have a list of top tips which will give you advice on how to keep your children safe at home and we have included links to other websites which will give you further information.
1. Know what’s going on
Talk regularly with your child about what they are doing online. Ask them questions and make sure they do not expect privacy while they are using technology. Although it can be tempting to enjoy the moments of peace and quiet that you get while they are using their consoles, phones, iPads and other devices, pick times to walk up to them and find out what they are doing.
2. Set rules for the use of technology in your house
To avoid arguments, it is important to have rules for the way technology is used. Discuss when and for how long it is acceptable for your child to use technology, agree how to treat personal information (name, address, telephone, e-mail), discuss how to behave towards others when gaming, chatting, e-mailing or messaging and agree what type of sites and activities are acceptable in your family.
3. Check privacy settings
Ask your child what apps they use to message their friends. Things like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Whatsapp and other similar platforms all have minimum ages and none of these are below 13, so if a primary age child does have an account on any of these they are breaking the rules that these companies have put in place. If as a parent you decide your child can use any of these then it is essential to check that their privacy settings are correct so that the information they post can only be seen by people you are happy with. If you are unsure how to do this then check online or contact the company concerned.
4. Check friends lists
Many children judge their popularity by how many friends or followers they have on an app or on their console. If your child has a console or uses any of these platforms then it is important to discuss their friend list with them. A good rule for safety is that they should know everyone on their list in person and should have met them in real-life before they added them to their list. If they are adding strangers, friends of friends or people they don’t actually know then you need to discuss the risks with them.
5. Check their chat history.
A huge problem for parents of children using technology is when their child is either a victim or responsible for cyber bullying. The good news is that, unlike some other forms of bullying, there is a clear record of exactly what was said by who. What is written is permanent and it is essential that your child knows this, as nothing can be denied afterwards. If your child knows that you regularly check their chat history, it will discourage them from writing things they shouldn’t, and if they don’t want you to look at what they've written it could well mean someone is saying things they shouldn’t be.
6. Discuss the pictures they are taking of themselves.
Selfies are a huge part of many children’s lives. It is so simple for children to send photos of themselves using a variety of apps and there is a constant drive to get others to ‘like’ these photos. This opens children up to a range of potential problems. Others may make unkind comments about their photos and children may be encouraged to take inappropriate photos of themselves. Find out what photos your child is sending, discuss the risks and consider carefully whether you will let them use apps where no record of the photos is stored which means you cannot check what they’ve been doing.
7. Find out what they’re viewing
An increasing amount of what children watch comes via YouTube or similar platforms. Unfortunately, many of the ‘YouTubers’ that children choose to watch are using inappropriate language and videos contain content which is unsuitable for children. Consider carefully whether you are willing to let them have access to these kinds of videos and the effect that it might have. In addition, there are many websites which are unsuitable for children due to sexual content. Check internet history and ensure that children do not expect privacy whilst they are surfing the internet. If you’re not sure how to check history, then a google search of ‘how to check internet history’ should provide you with the information you need.