Today's childen are using the Internet more now that ever before, both to learn and in their daily lives.
There are many opportunities to 'meet strangers' online and often children don't realise that is what they are in fact doing. Chatrooms forums and online gaming are a way of life for a lot of young people and social networking and gaming sites such as Facebook, Youtube, Minecraft, Moshi Monsters and more, are a big part of that. Many children are using Facebook on a regular basis, even though the minimum age to have an account is 13 (this also applies should a parent open an account on behalf of a child).
Social networking sites often change their privacy settings so please make sure that you know how to ensure your content cannot be seen by the whole world (maybe think about setting the privacy settings to 'friends only'). As an adult please think carefully before posting pictures of children on these sites, particulary if it is not of your own child.
In school we teach the children how to stay safe online but this does need to be constantly reviewed and reinforced at home. We have a set of Internet rules for them to follow in school most of which apply to home use as well. A copy of these rules can be downloaded from this page.
Children need to really understand how to keep themselves safe online by never giving out any personal information or agreeing to meet someone they have only met online. Even telling someone which school you attend is personal inforamtion!
They must also know what to do and who to tell if they see anything or are asked to do something which makes them feel worried or scared.
Young people are accessing the Internet now in more ways and places than ever before due to the everyday use of smartphones and games consoles such as xbox. They need to be aware that the same safety rules need to be followed however they access the Internet.
During the Autumn Term, all pupils in the school participated in classroom based learnng around Internet Safety, appropriate for their age group. During the Spring Term, Mr Posner and Mrs Pitt (two of our school governors) chatted to some of our pupils (41 in total) at lunchtime to see what they understood and what their thoughts were on this subject. Different questions were aimed at KS1 pupils and KS2 pupils.
All pupils were asked what they should do if they see something upsetting online. KS1 mainly said tell a parent or trusted adult, switch off or delete. Some older pupils said they would firstly minimise the screen and then tell a parent so that the parent could see the website.
In repsonse to being asked how they could stay safe online, KS2 pupils said by being suspicious of messages from strangers and avoid things that are rude.
Upper KS2 pupils were asked how they can tell if someone is unsafe and they responded by saying: If they ask inappropriate things and/or if they ask for information when they have never met them. The older pupils were also asked if they knew the warning signs if someone was trying to groom them. They gave the same response: if they ask inappropriate things and/or if they ask for information when they have never met them - as well as if they seem too friendly and offer gifts.
In conclusion, from the discussions held, it would appear that the internet safety lessons were worthwhile and the vast majority of pupils had benefited from them. The video presentation (used with the oldest pupils - Year 5/6) appears to have had the most dramatic effects as all remembered it well. One child stated that it frightened them, but this has, hopefully brought home what is regrettably happening in real life.
Although we felt the pupils learned a lot from the information provided, one can never be complacent as circumstances and technology change.
George Posner and Toni Pitt
24th April 2017
Earls Colne Primary School & Nursery
Tel: 01787 222205
Fax: 01787 222010