Introduction

The use of ICT pervades most aspects of modern lives, in particular through Social Networking.  At West Hill School we actively encourage pupils to make use of ICT in their learning and it provides a great resource to help students progress in their learning.

The safety of pupils in school is paramount and we employ firewalls, security filters and email filters to help us achieve this.

Young people need education about the benefits and drawbacks of using ICT in its many forms to help them to become responsible users.  In school, all pupils sign the Acceptable Use Policy which is in their planner.  A copy is provided here.

Beyond school and at home, you may be unsure about how best to support your child with their own use of ICT.  We are providing the information below to try and support you with this.

Setting boundaries

Just like you set limits with sanctions and consequences for behaviour, the same applies to children when they are online.  The limits on how you should speak politely to people directly do apply when online.  Copying someone else’s poor behaviour is never an excuse!

Ask your child about things they have seen online and what their reaction is to it.  This is a better starting point than trying to write a list of don’ts.

Judging how much time young people should spend online is difficult, especially when it is hard to work out when they are using it for work and study or playing games and socialising.  Try to keep your focus on making sure that any work that needs to be done is completed first.  Discuss what needs to be produced and whether you can help them with it.  When work is complete, you can then agree an amount of ‘free’ time afterwards.  There should, of course, be time spent away from computers and phones too!  It’s always a good idea for phones, tablets and laptops to not be left in bedrooms overnight.

When things go wrong

Children can be exposed to inappropriate images, material and contact through the Internet.  It is important that children always feel they can speak to their parent/carer without retribution if they feel they have already been coerced into exchanging images or details that they now regret.  You might occasionally raise the issue by asking what they would do in a certain situation which provides you the opportunity to say how you would react.

Be aware that the majority of social media sites have terms and conditions for over 13s only.  This means that they will limit their response in cases reported where an account is discovered to be held by someone under 13.  Of course, more serious incidents will be dealt with and may be passed on to the police.

Make sure that you and your child are aware of where to report issues if the need arises:

CEOP Command (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) http://ceop.police.uk/

A national website for the UK for reporting any issues for when young people are online.

Thinkuknow https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

Guidance based on age groups and links to reporting to CEOP Command.

ParentPort http://www.parentport.org.uk/

For reporting issues more widely seen in the media.

Some terminology

Sexting

Sexting is the sending of images or messages with sexually overt content.  Young people are increasingly doing this and see it as part of normal life.  Sending a sexually explicit image of a person under the age of 16 is, however, a criminal act.  This applies whether you are forwarding an image you did not take, or it is an image of yourself.  Very few young people are aware of this and the possible consequences.

You might contact your mobile phone operator to see what restrictions can be placed on a child’s phone, but these systems are never fool proof and it is always better to engage in dialogue with your child.

Twitter

A text based social media system where messages are limited to 140 characters and up to four messages can be attached.  You can sign up to follow other’s ‘tweets’ and forward them on as ‘retweets’.  Tweets stay listed on a person’s Twitter page until they choose to delete them.

Snapchat

A text, image and drawing based social media system.  Messages are sent to a list of recipients chosen by the sender, so are not made publicly available beyond that group.  Messages have a short lifetime and are automatically deleted after 10 seconds (as of January 2015).

Instagram

An image and text comment based social media system.  Photos can be taken and edited and posted to a timeline which can be shared with a limited group or made public.  Images stay listed until they are deleted by the account holder.

Facebook

A text and image based social media system.  Messages can be posted and shared with selected contacts or made public.  Messages stay listed until deleted by the account holder.

Helpful websites

‘Get Safe Online’ provides information and advice on using the Internet safely at home.

www.getsafeonline.org

‘BBC Online Safety’ helps you and your child use the Internet in a safe way.

www.bbc.co.uk/onlinesafety

‘Chat Danger’ is appropriate for 7 to 14 year olds and covers how to be safe when using interactive services online.

www.chatdanger.com

‘Internet Safety Zone’ has advice for and resources for parents and children aged under 13.

www.internetsafetyzone.co.uk