You will be aware of recent press regarding the safety of internet and social networking sites among children. The school has become aware that many of our pupils have access to group texting/networking facilities (eg. Viber, Whatsapp, Instagram) and social networking websites (eg Facebook) and occasionally this has lead to children being upset by activity of their peers. While we understand that this activity occurs out of school, the knock-on effect on self-esteem and relationships between children has huge implications. We address such issues as internet safety and on-line bullying in school and will continue to do so. We are, however, aware that our efforts at protection are limited and that parental support in this area is crucial.
Many children have more access than ever to the internet through the use of mobile phones, iPads, laptops, games consoles and so on. It is becoming more difficult to regulate what sites are accessed by children and how and when they interact online. While parent control software will block many unsuitable websites, it will not educate children on how to behave or interact safely while online. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, have age limits (13years old for Facebook) but this requirement is easily by-passed by children. Being young, they may not really understand the implications of comments or pictures posted or realise that the true impact of text and cyber comments is often invisible to the sender. Hurtful or unkind language can have very detrimental effects, particularly when written or typed. Social network sites, group texts and Viber can create a snowball effect as individuals add to comments made by peers.
Many parents feel underequipped to regulate internet use by children, here are some practical tips:
- Talk to your child about the dangers of predatory users of the internet, the reasons for age limits on certain sites and the impact of cyberbullying.
- Emphasise the importance of privacy – can your child’s details, photos or other personal information be viewed publically?
- Educate yourself about the sites your child uses. Get on Facebook, have some access to your child’s account either by their password or being a ‘friend’.
- Limit internet use to where you can see them. Leave iPads, mobiles etc downstairs at bedtime. If necessary switch off the Wifi in the house at a certain time.
- Whether we like it or not, these technologies are part of our children’s world, so we owe it to them, for their safety, to make it part of ours. Please inform the school if you have any serious concerns on these issues.
Principal and Staff.