Staying safe online
THE internet and the world wide web are fantastically powerful learning tools that can bring the entire world to a child’s fingertips. At Bedford we believe in using these tools to their fullest advantage to help our young people in their learning journey.
However we are also acutely aware of the potential pitfalls the internet brings with it.
We all have a part to play in ensuring that our young people are safe and secure when they are online. That they are not exposed to inappropriate and unsuitable material and that they do not come into contact with people they do not know.
We have a strict internet usage policy but here are some simple guidelines for students and parents to follow whether at school or at home.
Social Networking Sites (SNS)
Social Networking Sites such as Facebook are great to use, but here are a few pointers to keep your personal information as safe as possible:
Set up Privacy Settings so that YOU decide which areas of your profile can be accessed by others. In some instances, through the applications you add, others can access your personal information.
Always monitor the comments and entries posted on your pages and remember to be responsible and courteous online.
If you get contact requests, comments or messages from people either known or unknown, which makes you uncomfortable, talk to a trusted adult â€“ this can be your parents/carers, Form Tutor, Learning Manager, Pupil Guidance Officer or Safeguarding Mentors. You can also report it to the site owners.
Make yourself aware of the Rights and Responsibilities of social networking sites.
Anyone and everyone can have a website. This means that just because a website looks official doesn’t always mean it is.
What is the aim of the site?
Is it a personal site or an official site?
Who owns the website? Are there contact details on the site?
How often is the information updated?
Camera Phones and Bluetooth
Mobile Phones now have cameras, Bluetooth and Internet connections so you can communicate wherever you go. However, bear the following in mind:
Bluetooth can be used to harass, send files and bully others. Only turn Bluetooth on when it is necessary or use the visibility setting.
If you receive harassing or obscene messages, tell an adult immediately. Do not delete or forward these. Keep them as evidence that can be used when making a report.
Messenger Programs (IM)
Chatting with your friends online using Instant Messenger is fun and direct. However there are a few things to bear in mind:
Unless you have made your profile private and only available to your contact list, other people can access it â€“ so be careful what personal information you put on it.
Always tell an adult if a conversation online makes you feel uncomfortable. There are laws against harassment and bullying and you have the right to feel secure. If someone is bullying or harassing you via text chat â€“ keep the chat logs as evidence.
Block people that make you feel uncomfortable.
Always log off after you have finished, or someone could pretend to be you online.
General Internet Common Sense
Think about what information you put in your online profiles.
Consider using a nickname.
Make your profile private and only add friends whom you know in real life.
Remember there are laws to keep you safe and you should report issues like racist comments, bullying or sexually inappropriate comments to agencies such as CEOP or Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
Any information you give out online can be easily copied, stored and misused by others. Remember this when you post photos or personal information.
Everyone has a right to feel safe and for the majority, you will be lucky and not have any issues, however like the lottery…it could be you.
If you get into a situation that makes you feel uncomfortable, confused, upset and don’t know who to turn to look at this website:
It is a safe website that offers help and support to you. You can feel confident in being honest and explaining any issues you have had.
We are aware of a lot of interest from our students in a game called Pokemon Go.
The app lets players roam a map using their phone’s GPS location data and catch Pokemon to train and battle. The game has added millions to the value of Nintendo, which part-owns the franchise.
However, some people have raised concerns about the app’s safety. The chief executive of children’s charity NSPCC urged the app’s makers to adapt the game before its UK release, warning that adults could use it to prey on children. The NSPCC said it is worried that offenders could target unsuspecting children by using the app’s geolocation feature.
An NSPCC spokesman said: “It’s deeply troubling that the app’s owners have ignored many warning signals and well documented child safety concerns. It would have been better if they had taken time to reflect on these and put their young users first.”
The makers of the game – Niantic and The Pokemon Company – said in a statement: “We take player safety seriously and want everybody to have a fantastic time exploring while safely playing Pokemon Go.
“We encourage all people to be aware of their surroundings and to play with friends or family, especially when you’re exploring unfamiliar places. Please remember to be safe and alert at all times, don’t drive and play, abide by local laws, and respect the locations you visit and people you meet during your exploration.”
As with any interaction over social media, we recommend students do not talk to anyone they do not know in the real world, and do not engage with unknown gamers. Students should be aware that when operating location services or GPS on smartphone, they can potentially be tracked quite easily by someone wishing to know their movements.
Location services can be disabled easily on most smartphone and tablet Settings menus.
New technology can be useful but also confusing and having a child affected by the inappropriate use of technology can be upsetting and make you feel at a loss as to what to do.
If you have any concerns or experiences regarding your child’s e-safety, parents and carers are advised to go to the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) website. Click here to go to the website.
Online gaming what parents need to know
New technologies, including gaming, can offer our children many exciting and positive experiences. However, schools are increasingly aware of the negative impact that some online gaming is having on the education, achievement, sleep and behaviour of children. To find out more about the online games your children are playing and obtain advice offered to parents/carers based on research, please do listen to the Radio Verulam Parent Show podcast Computer games and your kids.
Useful websites / contacts
Here are some further e-Safety resources for parents
www.kidsmart.org.uk – Colourful website containing short videos, games, quizzes, activities along with advice on file sharing, social networking etc
www.thinkyouknow.co.uk – a one stop shop for students and parents/carers. CEOP Centre’s online safety centre, where you will find advice and tips for children, adults and professionals of all ages.
www.saferinternet.org.uk – Advice on how to use the latest technologies safely and responsibly, including resources, news and events.
www.childnet.org – Childnet also provides valuable information and advice in specific areas such as social networking, mobile chat, messenger, email, cyberbullying, music, film & TV as well as support for parents/carers.
Facebook – please click this link for a Parent’s Guide to Facebook.
Instagram is a simple photo- and video-sharing app with a huge and growing following, especially among young people. Like everybody, kids use it to – click this link to access a parent guide to instagram: http://www.connectsafely.org/wp-content/uploads/instagram_guide.pdf