Inappropriate Content Online Advice for Parents from the Lincolnshire Stay Safe coordinator
Over the last 12 months, we have seen an increase in the number of schools reporting that students, while at home, have accessed content which is not always appropriate, some of which has been quite scary or upsetting. While there is no perfect way to eliminate this risk, we feel that there are things parents and carers can do to support their children online, reduce the risk or manage it after the fact. Here are some of the practical steps parents and carers can follow:
Contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP): Companies that provide broadband such as BT, Sky and Virgin, offer free protection for parents and carers. They can filter your internet connection directly, without having to install anything. Guide on how to use this can be found here: https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/broadband-mobile/
YouTube is a fantastic resource, especially when homeschooling, but not all the content is appropriate for children and not all YouTube channels are made for young audiences. YouTube has an app just for children – YouTube Kids – but many people don't realise that the main YouTube app has a restricted mode. Check out more about how it works here: https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/entertainment-search-engines/youtube-app/
Games consoles have features that can limit what games they can play based on the age ratings and can even turn off certain features to allow gaming to be a little safer. To learn more about these features visit https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/gaming-consoles/
Games are also rated based on the content, not how difficult they are. 18 rated games can have very graphic violence, adult language and themes, sexual content and horror elements. Learn a bit more about appropriate games by visiting https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/articles/gaming-whats-appropriate-for-your-child/ or visit this site for more about game ratings https://parentzone.org.uk/article/pegi-games-ratings-explained
It's important to remember that no filters or controls are 100% effective so make sure your child knows that they can, and should, talk to someone if they see or hear anything upsetting online so we can offer them some reassurance. This information from Thinkuknow might be useful https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/articles/Im-worried-my-primary-aged-child-might-see-something-inappropriate-online/
Here in school we use a variety of filtering and monitoring systems to help ensure that our students don’t have access to inappropriate online material. We also include guidance on how to keep themselves safe as part of our e-safety lessons included in the Personal, Social, and Health Education curriculum.
In order to provide additional support and guidance for their use of the internet outside of school, please find below some links to useful resources to help protect your child whilst they are using the internet at home or on mobile devices:
Digital Parenting Magazine issue 8 – This link takes you to an online version of the Vodafone digital parenting magazine. Unfortunately we no longer receive paper copies to send home to parents.
Digital Parenting (Vodafone) – This is a link to a variety of free resources including previous versions of the ‘Digital Parenting Magazine’ and a guide to online gaming acronyms.
The links below take you to advice on how to choose the most appropriate form of parental control software to help protect your child whilst they are online.
Parental Controls (Internet Matters)
The Best Parental Control Software for 2019
Best parental control apps for Android and iPhone 2020
For younger children:
#Goldilocks is a modern twist on the classic fairy tale that offers a fun and accessible way for you to discuss all things social media related with your younger children. Co-branded by Vodafone UK and Andersen Press, award-winning author Jeanne Willis created the light-hearted story alongside illustrator Tony Ross. The book is designed to help educate children about the potential consequences of being unkind, getting carried away with selfies, or oversharing images, as we see Goldilocks getting into trouble with the three bears over her pursuit of likes on social media….
#Goldilocks Digital Book can be downloaded here:
#Goldilocks Activity Sheet here:
Lynda Divers (Mrs)
Be involved in your child’s online life. For many of today’s young people there is no line between the online and offline worlds. Young people use the internet to socialize and grow and, just as you guide and support them offline, you should be there for them online too. Talk to them about what they’re doing, if they know you understand they are more likely to approach you if they need support.
The Parentsguide has been produced for Thinkuknow, which is an education initiative by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre - the UK's national law enforcement agency that focuses on tackling the sexual abuse of children.
Watch Thinkuknow films to learn more. The Thinkuknow programme has films and advice for children from five all the way to 16. Your child may have seen some of these at school, but they can also be a good tool for you to find out more about what young people do online and some of the potential risks.
Keep up-to-date with your child’s development online. Be inquisitive and interested in the new gadgets and sites that your child is using. It’s important that as your child learns more, so do you.
Set boundaries in the online world just as you would in the real world. Think about what they might see, what they share, who they talk to and how long they spend online. It is important to continue to discuss boundaries so that they evolve as your child’s use of technology does.
Know what connects to the internet and how. Nowadays even the TV connects to the internet. Your child will use all sorts of devices and gadgets; make sure you’re aware of which ones can connect to the internet, such as their phone or games console. Also, find out how they are accessing the internet – is it your connection or a neighbour’s Wifi? This will affect whether your safety settings are being applied.
Consider the use of parental controls on devices that link to the internet, such as the TV, laptops, computers, games consoles and mobile phones. Parental controls are not just about locking and blocking, they are a tool to help you set appropriate boundaries as your child grows and develops. They are not the answer to your child’s online safety, but they are a good start and are not as difficult to install as you might think. Service providers are working hard to make them simple, effective and user friendly. Find your service provider and learn how to set your controls
Emphasise that not everyone is who they say they are. Make sure your child knows never to meet up with someone they only know online. People might not always be who they say they are. Make sure your child understands that they should never meet up with anyone they only know online without taking a trusted adult with them.
Know what to do if something goes wrong. Just as in the offline world, you want to help your child when they need it. Therefore, it is important to know when and how to report any problem. What tools are there to help me keep my child safe?
The NCA’s CEOP Command is here to help children and young people. We are here to help if you are a young person and you or your friend (up to age 18) has been forced or tricked into taking part in sexual activity with anyone online, or in the real world. We also have advice and links to support for other online problems young people might face, such as cyberbullying and hacking. Visit our Safety Centre for advice and to report directly to CEOP, by clicking on the Click CEOP button.
Useful websites for further information
The parents section of the Thinkuknow website provides information to support parents and carers to understand and respond to the risks their children may face as they grow. It covers a broad range of online safety issues from nude selfies to what to do if you think your child is being groomed online.
Find it at: https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/
Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/lscb
A quick chat about parental controls https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s9C7AyX3YGU
A quick chat about game ratings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHLXfn-LTIo
For information and advice regarding e-Safety in school, please contact
Mrs L E Divers – Deputy Headteacher (Safeguarding & e-Safety Officer)