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E-safety for our children – staying informed!

Posted on 15th of October 2017

Our children are experiencing unprecedented access to information, entertainment and social interaction, more than any generation before them. At Pilgrims, we understand and share our parents’ concerns about the potential impact, for good and for ill, which this access may have on our children. We implement a number of policies and training activities for children, parents and staff alike, to make sure that we can all work together to be able to enjoy all the opportunities online offers, while remaining keenly aware of the potential risks they might be exposed to.

At one of our recent staff training events on e-safety, our course leader noted that for all the parental controls, filters, encryption and sensible use of passwords, the ‘most effective filter is an educated child’. This can seem daunting for parents looking to official channels for support and advice, especially when it is possible that in the same family, there might be children who are pre-school, pre-prep and prep school age. Setting appropriate controls, boundaries and rules for each age group can seem like a minefield. Equally children are wonderful at requesting apps and online experiences that ‘their other friends are all playing’. Pragmatically, online activities are not going to disappear and in fact, as we were reminded during our training session, for many children and young people, their online world is as important as their offline world because the two have converged.

It is worth taking a moment to remind ourselves of the recommended age limits for each of the main social media sites currently. Facebook’s minimum age is 13, with Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Musical.ly all following suit. There are many other apps and platforms aimed at children, such as Minecraft, Roblox, Club Penguin, Kuddle and Yoursphere. All of these sites require users to create a profile and set up privacy settings. They can also facilitate a message or live-based chat function which users can use to talk to friends or strangers. Children may also have access to Skype or to Face Time and it’s really important that parents have control over their child’s access to any and every online activity. Other ways children use the internet and technology include invitations to game online via their Playstation, Xbox and Wii, which is always something to consider when evaluating which platform to buy. When your children move schools at the end of their time at Pilgrims, many homework projects will include researching topics online or accessing a school-based maths or English program online.

The NSPCC is one of our training partners and they have an excellent site called Net Aware on which you can enter any site, game or app to discover its suitability for your family. You can review apps and social media platforms very easily and it gives you a quick snapshot of how other parents and how children themselves rate and view the safety and risk of each app. Supervised access is the key for children of our age, especially when you consider that most apps have a minimum age of seven and older. We are happy to discuss these issues with all our parents and we take it extremely seriously in school. Our children are well-versed in our rules and are also gently empowered to begin to use emails by Year 2, with permission from their teacher.

Educating ourselves as parents and teachers alike has to be a continuous journey, as technology, apps and social platforms evolve. It remains our responsibility and, as Mad Eye Moody in the Harry Potter books would remind us, we should exercise ‘constant vigilance’ in our endeavours to keep e-safety at the front of all our minds.

There are a number of useful websites on this subject including: