Keeping on top of internet “fads” is a daunting and full-time job. Whether it’s LastFM or Music.ly. Logan Paul or the “Tide Pod Challenge”, Fortnite or PUBG, the internet landscape and popular culture is extremely difficult to stay on top of. Students, parents and staff face daily challenges keeping track of children’s access to questionable or inappropriate content.
As a school it is our responsibility to both block and monitor activity on our network, often referred to as our “Duty of Care”. But investing large sums of money into complex and comprehensive filtering systems isn’t practical at home and not always necessarily the right option.
One of the most popular questions at parent workshops relating to online safety is - how do I block X, or how do I see what my child is up to? As a school if that’s what you want, we are more than happy to offer suggestions. Using devices in a shared area is a good start, but what happens when the restrictions are removed or children are unsupervised? For example, a child goes to a friends house who is not monitored or restricted, connects to an not monitored internet connection, uses a computer or device that doesn’t have restrictions, or simply leaves home for work or university?
Filtering and monitoring is a tool, but not a silver bullet. Children are always looking to push boundaries and restrictions to the internet are no exception. Children will often find ways around even the best filtering and monitoring systems. The most powerful tool at our disposal is to be involved in our children’s online lives and begin the conversation.
If we don’t know if our children are doing something how do we help them to understand the risks and issues? How do we start the conversation that will allow us as parents and carers to ensure they are well informed?
- Ask your children to tell you about the sites they like to visit and what they enjoy doing online.
- Ask them about how they stay safe online. What tips do they have for you, and where did they learn them? What is OK and not OK to share?
- Ask them if they know where to go for help, where to find the safety advice, privacy settings and how to report or block on the services they use.
- Encourage them to help someone! Perhaps they can show you how to do something better online or they might have a friend who would benefit from their help and support.
- Think about how you each use the internet. What more could you do to use the internet together? Are there activities that you could enjoy as a family?
- Encouraging children to talk about their online use is the first step to being open and honest about the things that concern them. The earlier you start the more natural this becomes. Re-assure them that they won’t get into trouble and try not to overreact. I would rather my children felt comfortable telling me what they were up to than keep things a secret. The internet is no different.
For more information and further reading the following links may be of interest:
Director of Learning Technology
Click here for this week's full issue - 22nd June 2018