E-Safety and Digital Devices
The potential for the Internet to be valuable and a fun resource for entertainment, communication and learning is huge, but it is important to remember the risks and dangers associated with it, especially with the increased use of this technology. While the school is closed, it is likely that your child will be spending more time on devices than usual, especially when they are doing remote learning. It is therefore more important than ever that parents are digitally aware.
What’s the problem?
Higher screen time can put your child more at risk of:
- Being bullied online
- Abuse and grooming (when someone builds a relationship with a child to exploit or abuse them)
- Seeing inappropriate content
- Not getting enough sleep and exercise
Talk to your child about staying safe online
The best way to help your child to stay safe when using the Internet is to talk to them.
Here are some rules we'd recommend you discuss with your child
- You should only talk to people you know and trust in real life – anyone can pretend to be a child online
- If you do talk to people you don’t know, don’t give away personal information – like what street you live on or where you go to school, or share your location with them. Say no to any requests they send you for images or videos of yourself, and stop talking to them
- Set your profiles to private, to limit what others can see
- Be ‘share aware’ – think carefully about what you share and with who. Once it’s out there, you’ve got no control over what the other person does with it. Remember, it’s illegal to take, share or view sexual images of under-18s, full stop
- Be mindful of your digital footprint. What you post online now could come back to bite you later, like when applying for jobs, college or university
- If you see something upsetting or someone bullies you, tell an adult you trust
- Be aware that people will try to make their lives look more exciting online. There’s a lot people can do with photo editing to make their photos look better. So don’t assume everything you see is a true-to-life representation
- Watch out for hoaxes and scams, like messages you’re meant to forward on or that ask you for payment details or your password. Be wary of schemes promising easy cash for receiving and transferring money too, they’re almost definitely criminal activity
- Some people try to glamorise illegal or gang activity in order to encourage people to participate. Be suspicious of any content which makes criminal activity look fun or easy – most criminals end up in prison
- Watch out for loot boxes or other parts of games where you pay money to take a chance on getting a reward – you can get sucked into spending lots of money on them
Don’t feel confident starting a conversation with your child about what they’re up to online? Read this advice from the NSPCC: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/keeping-children-safe/online-safety/
Use Of Digital Devices
While we’re all aware of the benefits that technology has had in our lives, we often forget to consider the harm that excessive use of these digital devices can cause to our bodies and mental state, such as RSI, eye strain, obesity, physical fatigue or developing poor sleeping patterns.
There are a few things that you can do to help reduce these risks:
Set parental controls on devices
- For an interactive guide on how to set parental controls on the most common devices children may use, please follow this link: https://parenthub.thekeysupport.com/parent-online-safety-zone/device-controls.html
- For text guides on how to set parental control on different devices, please follow this link: https://www.gladesmore.com/safeguarding/settingparentalcontrols
- Use parental controls to restrict access to in-app purchases and explicit or age-rated content, and, on some devices, how long they can spend on the device.
- You’ll likely need to set a password. Make sure it’s different from the password used to access the device, and that your child doesn’t know it.
- Parental controls are usually located under ‘Settings’.
Make sure they’re doing school work when they should be
- Try to keep an eye on what they’re up to on devices during school time – make sure they’re actually using them for any work they’ve been set.
- Some virus protection software packages include monitoring features, so check to see if yours has this. You can also buy standalone monitoring apps.
- See this guide for more: https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/monitoring-apps-parents-guide/
Agree rules on screen time
There’s no recommended ‘safe’ amount of screen time, but you should try to avoid screens an hour before bedtime.
Agree some limits to stop screen time interfering with your child’s sleep or family activities:
- Make a plan together, and stick to it. You could set media-free times and zones, like during meals or in bedrooms
- Model the behaviour you want to see – which may mean no screen time for you at the times agreed with your child. Children are more likely to learn from example
- Try to minimise snacking during screen time
- Turn not using screens into a game, using apps like Forest, where not using devices is rewarded
Encourage off-screen activities
Get your child active for the recommended 60 minutes a day:
- See www.nhs.uk/change4life/activities for free ideas for activities and games
- Try an app that’s designed to get children active – see the examples at www.internetmatters.org/resources/apps-guide/apps-to-help-kids-get-active/
- Build in screen breaks if they’re doing school work at home. 5 to 10 minutes every hour should help. They could take a break to get a drink of water, look out of the window for a few minutes, or do some easy exercises like neck rotations and forward bends
If you want to know more about specific Apps or devices, please click on the more detailed advice below. All information adapted from The Key, April 2020.