E safety

Use of Social Media

As the online world continues to grow, the impact of Social Media on young people’s lives continues to be a concern. Recent research has shown that regular use of social media impacts on GCSE outcomes by at least 1 grade as pupils spend more and more time engaging online with friends and family and not engaging in conversation and dialogue in the real world, using abbreviations and ‘text speak’ rather than clear English which they will be assessed on in exams. Issues with friendship groups and young people having confidence to say things that they would not say in the real world ‘hiding’ behind a chat room/screen is a real concern, especially when what they say online has repercussions in the real world. Here are some top tips from https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk regarding ways in which parents can support children to stay safe online:

  • Be involved in your child’s online life. For many of today’s young people there is no line between the online and offline worlds. Young people use the internet to socialise and grow and, just as you guide and support them offline, you should be there for them online too. Talk to them about what they’re doing, if they know you understand they are more likely to approach you if they need support. 

  • Watch Thinkuknow (https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk) films to learn more. The Thinkuknow programme has films and advice for children from five all the way to 16. Your child may have seen these at school, but they can also be a good tool for you to find out more about what young people do online and some of the potential risks.

  • Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Be inquisitive and interested in the new gadgets and sites that your child is using. It’s important that as your child learns more, so do you.

  • Set boundaries in the online world just as you would in the real world. Think about what they might see, what they share, who they talk to and how long they spend online. It is important to continue to discuss boundaries so that they evolve as your child’s use of technology does.

  • Know what connects to the internet and how. Nowadays even the TV connects to the internet. Your child will use all sorts of devices and gadgets; make sure you’re aware of which ones can connect to the internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the internet – is it your connection or a neighbour’s Wifi? This will affect whether your safety settings are being applied.

  • Consider the use of parental controls on devices that link to the internet, such as the TV, laptops, computers, games consoles and mobile phones. Parental controls are not just about locking and blocking, they are a tool to help you set appropriate boundaries as your child grows and develops. They are not the answer to your child’s online safety, but they are a good start and are not as difficult to install as you might think. Service providers are working hard to make them simple, effective and user friendly. 

  • Emphasise that not everyone is who they say they are. Make sure your child knows never to meet up with someone they only know online. People might not always be who they say they are. Make sure your child understands that they should never meet up with anyone they only know online without taking a trusted adult with them.

  • Know what to do if something goes wrong. Just as in the offline world, you want to help your child when they need it. Therefore, it is important to know when and how to report any problem.

At this time, I would also remind parents that social media sites such as Facebook only permit people over the age of 13 to use them and therefore a pupil in year 7/8 will have provided fraudulent details in order to gain access and this is something that they and parents need to be aware of.

Any parent who is concerned about their child’s online use should seek appropriate advice and guidance from CEOP (http://www.ceop.police.uk/) or https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk