Keep children safe - online

January 17

Having access to a speedy internet connection is an important element for children growing up in our rapidly growing technological world.  The internet is not the enemy, nor are the many educationally stimulating apps and websites that are available on it.  It is unfortunate that a minority of our society are abusing the opportunities that it provides. The good news is that we can protect our children from these people by setting up our children's account properly...we just have to actually do it!


You can prepare your children for the digital world they are already part of. These days this is not optional but a massive part of parenting. Our children's “digital self” needs to be managed carefully, and encouraged to some degree by allowing them to successfully mix with their peers.


All network providers are obliged to offer a number of parental controls.  Are you aware that you have these controls? Do you have them set up and turned on?  If you are unsure, make some phone calls; yes, it is time-consuming, but once you’re set up you can relax in the knowledge that you have some safety steps in place.


What’s your family plan?  Your toddler who may be showing an interest in Tractor Ted or Paw Patrol apps will be instant-messaging in the blink of an eye.  I am talking from personal experience here; if you don't have a family plan in place the mismanagement of devices at home has a nasty habit of biting back!


Have a digital drawer or basket.  At meal times all devices are turned off and turned in.  Again at bedtime they stay downstairs in the basket.  Recent research has shown that even having the devices (turned off) in bedrooms overnight can disrupt sleep. Knowing that they are there causes anxieties.


Do not drive technology out of the house, as your children will have plenty of access to it outside of the home. They will experience apps that they have little understanding of and therefore they may well make serious mistakes with the information that they share.


It is an unfortunate reality that all apps with a social media slant to them (the vast majority) are plagued by paedophiles hunting out vulnerable children. Our children are vulnerable as they do not understand the potential that the apps they are using have, and some parents haven't invested the time in setting the app up with the correct privacy settings or nurtured an open and honest environment at home.  It is too easy to delete apps once children make a mistake, but this can discourage children from being open about their online experiences.


An excellent group to follow on Facebook for current online issues is: EST e safety training.  


David Hewlett

Head of Digital Learning, Dame Bradbury’s School



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