E-Safety for Parents

ceopThe world of digital technology moves at an incredible pace. For young people growing up in this environment, it may feel perfectly natural to interact with the latest technology and to become immersed in the online world. The challenge for parents is to ensure that their children enjoy the huge benefits of the internet safely and responsibly.

The following information has been designed to help you to understand more about today’s most important e-safety issues, provide you with practical steps that you can take to keep your children safe online and offer ideas for starting discussions with your children about the responsible use of social media.

Advice for Parents Social Media Guidance Keeping Children Safe

Advice for Parents

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is any form of bullying that takes place online, or using digital devices such as smartphones or tablets.

How cyberbullying occurs

Cyberbullying that is instigated by peers largely takes place on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook following a fall out or as a way to draw negative attention to someone. Young people also face cyberbullying from people they’ve never even met in person on forums, chatrooms and open social media profiles, which is why it is important to keep your personal details and social media profiles private.

How it makes your child feel

Although cyberbullying is a form of bullying, the effects can differ greatly from face-to-face bullying. When you are bullied online, particularly in situations where many people can see it happening, it’s extremely humiliating. Often onlookers are waiting to see how you’ll respond, and sometimes it can be hurtful just to see that no one is stepping in to stand up for or support you.

Cyberbullying can occur any time, any place – when your child’s on holiday, when playing with friends, when doing homework. So they may feel trapped in the sense that they’re unable to escape the abuse. In addition to the emotions your child may be feeling after being bullied, they have the added pressure of knowing that any videos, pictures or comments posted about them may be permanent. Once something is posted online, it can be visible for you and others to see, years down the line.

What to do if your child is being cyberbullied

  • Talk to them about it if you spot any warning signs that they may be being bullied. Try and be non-judgmental and understanding, then offer your advice and support
  • Get evidence of the bullying. Screen shots are an effective way of capturing evidence so that it can be shown to others when needed
  • Block the person bullying them so that your child and the cyberbully aren’t able to communicate with each other
  • Report cyberbullies to the social networks, web masters or admins themselves so they can step in to try and rectify the situation
  • Ignore cyberbullies instead of retaliating where possible. As with all bullying, the bullies usually want to get a reaction out of you
  • Privacy is key when it comes to protecting yourself from anonymous cyberstalkers or trolls. Encourage your child to switch their privacy settings to share content only with their “friends”
  • Age limits on social networks, apps and games should be communicated to your child (eg. the Terms of Use on Instagram state that you must be at least 13 years old to use the service)
  • Escalate to your child’s school or the police for support if the situation is serious and you notice that your child is getting upset, being threatened or you’re seeing signs of self-harm

Bullying in any form has no place at Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy.

How to prevent Cyberbullying?

Parents and pupils can prevent cyberbullying.  Together, they can explore safe ways to use technology.  Talk with your child about cyberbullying and other online issues regularly.

  • Know the sites or applications your child is using.  Ask where they’re going, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with.
  • Tell your child that as a responsible parent you may review their online communications if you think there is reason for concern.
  • Installing parental control filtering software (see videos below) is one option for monitoring your child’s online behaviour, but do not rely solely on these tools.
  • Establish rules about appropriate use of computers, smartphones, and other technology. For example, be clear about what sites they can visit and what they are permitted to do when they’re online. Show them how to be safe online.
  • Help them be smart about what they post or say. Tell them not to share anything that could hurt or embarrass themselves or others. Once something is posted, it is out of their control whether someone else will forward it.
  • Encourage your child to think about who they want to see the information and pictures they post online. Should complete strangers see it? Real friends only? Friends of friends? Think about how people who aren’t friends could use it.
  • Tell your child to keep their passwords safe and not share them with friends. Sharing passwords can compromise their control over their online identities and activities.

What is the digital footprint?

The digital footprint is the trail of digital information we leave behind us when we do anything online – when we share things, search for things, join groups or buy things.

This footprint can be searched for and shared by people we know and people we don’t. One of the simplest ways people can discover their digital footprint is by searching for themselves using search engines such as Google, but this is by no means the most effective way of accessing your footprint.

Why does the digital footprint matter?

It is good to ensure that your child is mindful of how the things they share online could be discovered by friends, family, strangers, even their grandchildren in years to come! When it comes to applying for jobs or for University, the digital footprint matters as many organisations and Universities will do a digital footprint screening before considering you for a position.

It is therefore important to ensure not only that embarrassing pictures or inappropriate comments aren’t easily discoverable, but that only content that reflects your child in a positive light is visible. This could be anything from a creative YouTube CV to an interesting photography blog they’ve developed.

Managing your child’s digital footprint

  • Once you and your child have searched for your footprints online, here’s how you can work with your child if you find information you don’t want to be visible online:
  • Delete any content that features on your child’s online accounts eg. tTheir Facebook page, that they’re not happy with
  • Un-tag your child from any content they don’t want to be associated with (tagging is a way of identifying someone in a picture, video or comment on social media)
  • Deactivate or delete any social media accounts or online profiles they’re signed up to but don’t want to use any more
  • Privacy settings on your child’s online accounts should be set to a standard you’re both happy with, to ensure you’re comfortable with who is seeing the content your child is posting
  • Private information such as your child’s home address, the school they go to, or their location should not be disclosed to people they don’t trust. Remind them of the importance of not sharing this information
  • Report any content that your child wants to be removed to the social networks themselves requesting that it gets deleted using the site’s reporting function
  • Talk to anyone directly who has posted content of your child and request that it is deleted (you may need to contact the webmaster if the content is hosted on a website)
  • Gain control of your digital footprint by posting things online that you’d be happy for, or even encourage others to, discover

Image, identity and social media

Today we hear lots about the sorts of pressures young people face online when it comes to how they look and present their lives. Expectations from ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ to create that perfect selfie, or to portray yourself as being fashionable, popular or interesting online can be overwhelming. It may also leave us questioning who we really are versus how we showcase ourselves online – ‘self vs selfie’.

Why this issue is on the rise

There are a number of reasons why this issue is on the rise. Here are some of the key reasons:

  1. Increased access to technology allows us to not only share various aspects of our lives and see what others are doing 24/7 via smartphones, tablets etc, it also allows others to comment on and engage with the content we share anytime, anywhere
  2. Trends in visual sharing through apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, which are heavily focused on sharing videos and images, have fuelled the selfie movement, encouraging you to broadcast snapshots of your life
  3. Online influencers such as YouTubers, Instagrammers and other celebrities regularly share content that presents the way they look and the things they do in a desirable light
  4. Popularity of photo editing apps are making it easier than ever for you to edit images of yourself – change your body shape, your skin tone or even the size of your eyes with the aim of making yourself look more aesthetically appealing

How it makes your child feel

Social media is a fantastic tool for self-expression, and while for most that expression of our identity is healthy and even confidence-inducing, some are left feeling open to judgement, criticism or generally feeling insecure as our lives aren’t as perfect as others seem to be. The vast majority of young people are able to manage these emotions, but for some it can lead to physical and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, even eating disorders.

How to deal with identity and self-esteem issues:

  • Share management tactics with your child such as digital detoxes (setting time aside to have a break from being online) or only following people who make them feel positive and inspired
  • Discuss self-worth reiterating that social media shouldn’t just be all about hiding the aspects of our lives and ourselves we don’t like, it should be about presenting yourself in a way that shows you value who you really are
  • Talk regularly about any trends they’re seeing in the use of social media (such as the infamous ‘thigh gap’ trend) and how it makes them feel about themselves
  • Seek medical help if you’re at all concerned that they may be suffering from physical or mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or an eating disorder

What is online grooming and how does it occur?

Grooming happens when someone builds a friendship or romantic relationship with a child for the purposes of exploitation or sexual abuse.

Online groomers could be strangers, or someone they may know – a friend of a friend for example. Groomers use all sorts of tactics online to engage with children; this could be achieved by gaming with them, talking to them in chat rooms, by giving them compliments on their appearance on social media or in some cases by blackmailing them.

How are relationships built online?

Whilst we are used to hearing stories about adults meeting each other online, many are surprised to hear that young people are also using the internet, and social media in particular, as a tool for flirting and seeking relationships. At 13 years old, children are able to access dating apps to publicly search for romantic connections. Social networks such as Snapchat, Facebook or WhatsApp allow young people to privately or publicly exchange romantic communication though pictures, videos and text.

What to do if you’re concerned about relationships and grooming:

  • Privacy settings on your child’s online accounts should be set to a standard you’re both happy with, to ensure strangers can’t contact them online
  • Private information such as your child’s home address, the school they go to, or their location should not be disclosed to people they don’t trust. Remind them of the importance of not sharing this information
  • Talk to them about the dangers of grooming or speaking to strangers online, making them feel like they could come to you if they ever had any concerns or worries
  • Age limits on social networks, apps and games should be communicated to your child (e.g. the Terms of Use on Instagram state that you must be at least 13 years old to use the service)
  • Escalate to your child’s school and the police immediately if you have any suspicions that your child may have been groomed

What is private information?

Private information is information that can be discovered online, which reveals your identity. For your child, this could be anything from the school they attend to their date of birth to the names of family members.

Today, so much gets shared online about who we are, what we’re doing and where we’re going so it’s important that your child is aware that oversharing can have repercussions, especially if private information gets into the wrong hands.

Why it’s important to be secure online

When personal information does get into the wrong hands, it can be used for a number of security breaches, from identity theft to viruses to online grooming.

Often we aren’t aware when private information is visible to others. For example, it could be that an app that you’re using has been disclosing where you are without you knowing that you had enabled it to access your location.

How online scams occur

There are a number of ways online scams can take place. Some of the most common ways people fall victim of cybercrimes are via:

  1. Phishing scams, which happen when someone tries to access private information such as passwords or credit card details online by pretending to be a trustworthy entity such as a bank
  2. Insecure websites that may compromise your security by not having basic security measurements in place for example, or by failing to store passwords properly
  3. Having weak passwords which are easy for criminals to hack into (such as “password1”). This enables them to easily access your online accounts
  4. Spyware traps, which gather information about you without your knowledge, for example when you create a profile on an insecure website. This information could be shared without your permission or used to control your computer
  5. Viruses, which are programmes or pieces of code that damage your device/computer. Your computer could become infected with a virus by simply clicking on a link that says “You’ve won an iPad!”
  6. Sharing private information, as mentioned above

What to do to prevent your child from security scams:

  • Talk to them about the dangers of using the internet unsafely, giving examples such as those outlined above about of how easy it can be to fall become a victim of a security scam
  • Strong passwords should always be encouraged to prevent people from hacking into your child’s online accounts
  • Anti virus software should be activated on the devices your child uses to protect them from harmful software
  • Privacy settings on your child’s online accounts should be set to a standard you’re both happy with, to ensure cyber criminals or strangers can’t see the things they post online
  • Private information such as your child’s home address, the school they go to, or their location should not be disclosed to people they don’t trust. Remind them of the importance of not sharing this information
  • Suspicious links should be avoided at all times. Your child must be aware that they may infect their devicescomputers with a virus just by clicking on a link that says “free downloads”
  • Secure websites usually have a padlock symbol in the address bar and a web address starting with https://. If your child is aware of that it may help them to think twice before sharing private information such as card details on a website when paying for something
  • Looking after their tech is important if your child is to learn that leaving their devices unattended or forgetting to log out of their online profiles could leave them open to security breaches

Sharing is such a big part of our online lives, and for most of us who share responsibly, it’s great. But for some, it can be detrimental, and sexting is one of the biggest problems. Sexting involves someone sharing any form of sexually explicit content, like a nude selfie, with another person.

This video has been created to encourage you to think about the risks of sexting as well as offering guidance on what to do if you’ve either received sexually explicit content, or are thinking about sharing it.

In addition to parental controls offered by your internet service provider (ISP), some devices, such as games consoles, tablets and smartphones have additional settings. Please read the Parents’ Guide to Technology produced by the Safer Internet Centre for more information.

Below are some great websites to help students and parents get the most out of your technology, use the internet responsibly and to keep you and those you care about safe on the internet.

Staying Safe on the Internet

r4haEmBCSafer Internet Centre – Advice and resources for parents from setting up parental controls offered by your internet provider to parental guides to new technology.
thinkuknow logoThinkUKnow – Find out what’s good and what’s not so good on the internet and what you can do about it.
Know IT All – An interactive internet safety resource.  Contains the latest advice on cyberbullying and reporting.
Digizen LogoDigizen – Information and advice to encourage responsible digital citizenship.
KidSMART – Great for children, teachers, parents and carers.  Fun games and activities alongside internet safety advice.
Chat Danger – Advice for teenagers on how to stay safe while chatting online with information about the potential dangers of interactive services like chat, Instant Messenger, online games, email and mobiles.

 

 

Mobile Phones

PhoneBrainPhoneBrain – Advice for young people on phone-paid services such as ringtones, competitions and television voting.
phonepayplusPhonepayPlus – Premium rate services regulator providing advice for users on phone-paid services. Phone-paid services add the cost of a service or goods to your phone bill or pre-pay account – this could include ringtones and wallpapers for your phone, TV voting or charity donations.

 


Social Networks and Blogs

Childnet InternationalChildnet International – Parents – understand the positive and creative ways people are using social networking spaces like Facebook and highlights the potential risks of using these sites and the ways to minimise these risks.

Digizen LogoDigizen – Information about social networking sites and how to use them responsibly, plus advice on preventing and responding to cyberbullying.

 

Computer Protection

Sorted – Produced by young people. Explores the issues of internet security and protection with explanations, important information and advice on how to protect a computer from viruses, phishing, scams, spyware and trojans.


File Sharing and Downloading

Young People, Music and the Internet  – A leaflet developed with the music industry.

Pro Music – A list of legal sites to download music.

The Childnet Jargon Buster – A glossary of key terms you might come across whilst learning about e-safety.

Are you an Accidental Outlaw? – Take the quiz and test your knowledge about the law online.

Social Media Guidance

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

Snapchat

Keeping Children Safe

A parents' guide to being Share AwareYour child's online world - A guide for parentsHelpline Poster General