Conisborough College Entrance

Staying Safe Online

Privacy and Information Sharing

Most social media sites allow young users to host a public profile, which presents many concerns regarding their privacy.  If privacy settings are not applied, the content they publish on their profiles will be accessible to millions of people worldwide.

This information can potentially include:

  • personal contact details;
  • photographs or videos of themselves and their friends;
  • the names and addresses of the schools and clubs they attend;
  • their exact locations at any given time through the use of location tagging features.

Digital Footprints

Due to the lack of face-to-face communication in cyberspace, there is a tendency for the offline world to be referred to as the ‘real world’.  This can be a damaging notion, as it often leads children to act with less caution when using the internet.

Behaviour can include:

  • involvement in visible, public arguments;
  • the expressing of opinions that can be interpreted as offensive or aggressive;
  • participation in bullying through commenting on or sharing malicious content.

The internet is like a giant USB that saves all the things that we publish online.  The collective history of this activity is often referred to as a digital footprint, and can be accessed by anyone through a simple online search.  Even if your child uses privacy settings on social media platforms, they will not be able to stop their connections from passing the content they post on to others.

If their activity is offensive, they may find themselves in trouble with peers, the school or even the police.  Universities and employers have been known to check the online profiles of applications, so negative activity can also affect a young person’s educational and professional opportunities later on in life.  It is therefore extremely important that young people understand that the cyber world is the real world, with very real consequences.

Grooming and Sexual Abuse

Online grooming is the action of an adult befriending a child with the intent to prepare them for sexual abuse.  It is not a one off event but a process of engaging with them, tapping into their hobbies and vulnerabilities and building a falsely perceived connection.

Social media, interactive gaming and chat rooms can be the first point of contact.  Abusers are able to hide behind false online identities and talk to young people with greater ease, out of the direct observation of others.

If your child has been receiving inappropriate communications from an adult, you should report this on the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre website.

Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is the misuse of digital technologies or communications to bully a person or a group, typically through messages or actions that are threatening and/or intended to cause offence, anxiety or humiliation. It comes in many different forms, and is particularly damaging as the abuse is inescapable – it follows the target everywhere.

CSE – Child Sexual Exploitation

CSE can occur through use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition. Statistics show that increasing numbers of young children are now being sexually exploited and groomed online from as young as 10 years old.

Do you know the signs? Tap below for further information:

Live My Digital

Learning about digital living, together

The GDST has created a unique video series – ‘Live My Digital‘ – to help parents help their children to stay safe online. The series consists of six short films for parents and six matching films for children to empower families to use social media safely and responsibly.

The films will help encourage and support open discussions in your family about how to enjoy the online environment whilst staying safe. The videos look at the ways in which the internet and digital technology can be used positively by young people as well as identifying the potential issues they may face. The most critical themes in online safety today are covered including: 

  • Cyberbullying
  • The digital footprint
  • Identity and self-esteem
  • Relationships and grooming
  • Security and privacy
  • Sexting

Protecting your Child Online

Once you are aware of your child’s online behaviour and the potential risks they may face, there are a number of guidelines you can follow that will help protect your child online.

Engage in open discussion

Promote open and calm discussion about your child’s experiences on the internet.  If they fear they will be blamed or punished for their online mistakes, they are more likely to hide a problem or try and fix it themselves, potentially making it a lot worse.
If they feel comfortable coming to you with their experiences, you will be able to intervene before a problem escalates or they expose themselves to danger.

Talk about the risks

Children start using the internet from a very young age, so it is important you discuss potential dangers early and regularly.  Although topics such as grooming and sexual content can be uncomfortable to approach, it is imperative children are equipped with the tools to protect themselves online.

Encourage your child to read our section for young people where we have a range of information explaining the potential consequences of their online behaviour, and advice on how they can protect themselves from threat.

Have an agreement and establish appropriate behaviour

The behavioural boundaries and sanctions you set for your child must include their use of the internet.  You may wish to consider the following:

  • Set time limits for your child’s internet use and incorporate regular screen breaks;
  • Social media profiles are set to private, so only trusted contacts can gain access;
  • They only accept friend requests from, or communicate with people they know;
  • Personal contact details are not given out over the internet;
  • They never meet anyone in person from the internet without an accompanying adult;
  • They can come to you for help with any problem.

Parental Controls

For primary school children, parental controls can be a very effective way of controlling the sites and content your children are able to access.  Most computers and internet connected devices have parental controls available.  Talk to your manufacturer or service provider to see what restrictions are available.

BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media have video guides to help get you started.

Older children and teens are likely to get around filters, or access the internet on personal smart phones or portable devices.  It is for these reasons that parental controls cannot be solely relied upon, but seen as an addition to the educational guidelines outlined above.

Here are some great steps to follow if your child (13+ years-old) joins a social networking Web site.

  1. Discuss why they want to use a social network and what type of content they plan on adding.
  2. Teach your child about online safety basics and what kind of personal information should be kept private. [8]
  3. Check your child’s privacy settings to restrict access and postings. Show your child how to use these settings and explain their significance. [8]
  4. Promote honesty. Try setting a good example by not lying and discuss how lying can hurt relationships and trustworthiness. [2]
  5. Discuss the harmful effects of social networks with your child. Be sure they understand what expectations you have for their online behavior and what consequences they will face (both in the household and in the outside world) should they stray away from those.  Remind them to only say or do things online that they are comfortable with others seeing. [8]
  6. Start your own account on the same websites and let your child know you’re there. Tread carefully, however, and keep in mind that you can’t watch them 24/7, and some kids may resent your monitoring. [3]
  7. Take advantage of parental control features on your computer by restricting inappropriate content.
  8. Review your child’s friend list and ask questions if you see a friend unfamiliar to you.
  9. Ask your child to refrain from positing photographs. Photos of children may be targets for pedophiles.  If you do allow photos, be sure they don’t include any identifiable information like the exterior of your homes, as this may be a target for criminals. [4]
  10. Do Facebook “reviews” with them. Log on together and review your child’s recent activity so you can show that you trust him/her but you are still their parent. [4]
  11. Teach your child to trust their “uh-oh” feeling. Encourage them to tell you or another reliable adult if they feel threatened or awkward because of something somebody said or did online. Do your best to collect and print any threats that occur via email, instant messages, postings, etc. If you feel that your child is in danger, report the incident to the police as well as the social networking website.

Recommended Websites

Keep your child safe online
Child Exploitation/Online protection
Social Media FAQ
safety tips, advice & resources
Lewisham online safety
Supporting your child in school

Paper Copies

If you require a printed copy of any of the school’s polices or any other information on our website, please contact the school and we will be happy to provide it.

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