At a time when students are spending more time both at home and online, it’s extremely important that they do so safely.
We would like to share advice with parents and carers, including links and suggestions, so that you can keep your children safer online at home.
Setting ground rules
- Discuss and agree, as a family, how students should be using the internet at home, with the aim of ensuring that any access is appropriate to your child’s age and ability.
- Ask your children what they think is and isn’t acceptable to do online, then add your own rules and boundaries to that list.
- Decide what information should not be revealed online, such as contact information and photos. Agree rules for making and meeting online friends.
- Set clear boundaries relating to webcams, video chat, live streaming and live voice on different devices. Even when children are talking to people they know, they can still encounter risks.
- Explore how to create strong passwords and discuss how to keep them safe, e.g. not sharing them with their friends or using the same password for several accounts.
- Try writing down “ground rules” as a visual reminder Click here for a template “family agreement”.
- Remember these are whole family rules, so consider your own use of the internet and lead by example.
- Share quality time together. Consider nominating ‘tech-free’ areas or times, such as your child’s bedroom or dinner time, where you can give each other undivided attention and share offline experiences, like reading a book together.
- Install antivirus software and secure your internet connection.
- More advice on online security can be accessed here.
- Make the most of the parental controls on your children’s internet-enabled devices and games consoles to help restrict inappropriate content. They can also help you manage how much time your child spends online.
- Do your research and select the tools which are most suitable to you, your child and the technology in your home. Find more information on parental controls at:
- Set up filters on internet search engines.
- Ensure your child understands that parental controls are in place to protect them, not restrict them. Some children will actively work around parental controls if they feel constrained without knowing why.
- Read parental guidance and safety recommendations for games, apps or websites before allowing your child to use them.
- The following guides provide balanced information to help you make informed decisions:
- Be aware that parental control tools and filters are not always 100% effective and you can’t rely on them alone to protect your child online.
- The internet provides vast opportunities for children, both educationally and socially, especially during the current situation. It’s important that we acknowledge the many wonderful and positive opportunities the internet provides for our children – we just need to steer them in the right direction.
- Make appropriate checks on anyone online offering educational support to you and your child. Whilst many people will be acting with good intentions, it’s important that we are all vigilant.
- Encourage your child’s creativity by teaching them how to take photos or make videos safely; these can be used to make a collage or be shared with family and friends.
- Being online should be a sociable activity; keep your devices in a communal area and take it in turns to choose a game or video that the whole family can enjoy together. Why not take it in turns the good old-fashioned way to beat the highest scorer?!
- Create learning opportunities; just because they’re not at school, doesn’t mean children can’t continue to learn new things. There are several educational apps and resources available online or simply encourage your children to safely research different things online.
- Maintain an open mind and positive attitude when talking with your child about the internet. Take an active interest in your child’s online activities and engage in their online world with them.
- Ask your child which games, apps, websites or tools they like to use and why; playing together with your child can often open opportunities to discuss safe behaviour online.
- Ask your child if they know where to go for help; do they know where to find safety advice or information about privacy settings and know how to report or block users on their games and websites.
- Make sure your child knows that they should come to you, or another trusted adult, for help if something happens online that makes them feel scared, worried or uncomfortable.
- Talk to your child about being kind online and encourage them not to retaliate or reply to cyberbullying and to keep any evidence; you may need to show your child how to take screenshots on their device.
- Have a look at the following links for useful tips on talking to children about online safety in an age appropriate way:
If you are worried
Be alert to any changes in behaviour, language and attitude in your child that may indicate that something is upsetting them online, for example, if your child starts to withdraw from family and friends or becomes secretive about their online behaviour.
If your child discloses an online issue or concern to you, ensure you listen.
- Avoid being angry or blaming them; reassure them that they have done the right thing by telling you.
- Take their concerns seriously; even if you feel they are overreacting or their worries are unfounded, it is important not to dismiss their feelings as this can prevent them from coming to you for help again in the future.
- Support your child to report and block people online who may have tried to contact them or have sent them nasty or inappropriate messages or content.
- Help your child to report to the site or service where the concern happened.
Depending on the issue, you can report specific concerns online at:
- Inappropriate content: https://reportharmfulcontent.com/
- Terrorist content: https://act.campaign.gov.uk/
- Child Sexual Abuse Imagery: https://www.iwf.org.uk/
- Online Child Sexual Abuse: https://ceop.police.uk/
The Designated Safeguarding Leads and are available to discuss any help you may need or concerns that you may have. Please contact the team on: firstname.lastname@example.org and ask that your message be passed to a Designated Safeguarding Lead. You can read the school's Online Safety Policy by clicking here.
Websites to visit for more information:
NSPCC: www.net-aware.org.uk and www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety
ChildLine: www.childline.org.uk. They also provide a helpline for children: 08001111
UK Safer Internet Centre: www.saferinternet.org.uk
Internet Matters: www.internetmatters.org
BBC “Own It” Website and App: www.bbc.com/ownit and www.bbc.com/ownit/take-control/own-it-app