Digital Christmas - Tips for Parents

Buying new tech for your children this Christmas? Don’t forget about online safety


Smartphone ChristmasIt’s that time of year again, and with the Christmas shopping well under way (at least for the prepared) many of us will be buying digital devices for children, with technology continuing to feature high on those wish lists for Santa.

This year’s top gaming consoles include the Xbox One X, which was released on November 7th with its timing (just ahead of Christmas) being no coincidence. It retails for just under £450, but if Microsoft’s price tag turns you off, then there’s always last year’s Sony PlayStation 4 Pro, which is available for just £300.

Children’s fascination with tablets doesn’t seem to be waning either. Whilst sales of adult tablets have continually declined over the last three years, specially designed tablets for children under ten have remained popular. This year sees the Kurio Tab Advance and the LeapPad 3 on the recommended lists. These give parents the reassurance of a 'safe' web browser or no Internet access and games and pre-loaded apps which are appropriate for children.

It’s when children reach the age of ten or eleven that the desire for more sophisticated technology sets in. Young people may well become frustrated when they can't get the same games or apps as their friends have on Android or iPad. Devices such as the Amazon Fire 7 offer a happy medium, allowing parents to set up password-protected profiles so they can give each child access to only the books, games and apps they want them to see. But what happens when children reach an age where they want to interact with their friends online? Games consoles have always been highly targeted at the teenage market. Once designed solely for playing games, consoles are now connected to the Internet to allow a more interactive and collaborative experience. Consoles today don’t just allow gamers to play games with others, but also allow them to exchange photos, engage in live messaging and even ‘host’ parties online.

Despite being very different devices, games consoles and tablets carry similar risks for young people. A recent study of 11-16 year olds held by Kaspersky made for interesting reading. Whilst 23 percent had been asked personal or suspicious personal questions online, as many as 20 percent said that they trusted the gaming platform so much that they would see no problem meeting contacts from it in real life. Nearly a third of the children in the study said that their parents had no idea who they talked to when they played games.

In the UK, a similar study held by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) at Oxford University — which analysed Ofcom data from 515 homes with 12-15 year olds — found that eight percent of those who had been interviewed had been contacted by strangers. Four percent said they had encountered another person pretending to be them online and two percent had seen something of a sexual nature that had made them uncomfortable. Their parents were also interviewed about whether they had used technical tools to control or manage their child's access to online content. Only one-third of the parents said they used content filters, with two-thirds (66%) saying they had not. One quarter (24%) of the parents did not know or were unaware of the filter technology at the time of the interview.

But whilst filtering might seem like a quick fix, one that can be ‘switched on’ and then forgotten about, questions still remain about whether this is truly an effective way of protecting young people. Even the best filters are never completely watertight, and on the flip side, some filters can be so strictly configured that they can over-block, preventing teenagers from accessing helpful content on topics such as sexual relationships or drug and alcohol abuse.

Rather than prioritising Internet filtering, the OII study (amongst others) suggests we should place greater focus on educating and supporting teenagers about using the Internet responsibly, with emphasis on how teenagers manage online experiences that make them feel uncomfortable or scared. Parents should start the conversation about online safety at a young age, so more serious conversations about risk can be discussed as the child gets older. Once young people know that their parents understand what can happen online, it gives them greater confidence to approach parents for an open dialogue about any concerns and bring to light any negative experiences they might have had.

Does your school hold regular workshops with parents about online safety? The run up to Christmas can be a great time to have these conversations before the winter holidays. Engaging parents provides a more holistic approach to online safety, building a better school community and one that takes a proactive approach in helping families stay safe, as recommended by Ofsted.



Engaging parents with resources from E-safety Support


ParenttrainingscreenshotIf you’re looking for resources to help you engage parents, E-safety Support offers a number of resources; including parent packs, e-safety factsheets and guidance documents specifically for parents. There is also an online training course designed as a simple introduction to e-safety which will provide some much needed information to help parents start to understand possible e-safety problems and give them a foundation for making decisions about technology usage within the home.

To preview the resources and training courses available, join our free membership service

Written by E-safety Support on December 07, 2017 11:44

Making Britain the safest place in the world to be online

Britain is to become the safest place in the world to be online thanks to new proposals announced by Culture Secretary Karen Bradley.


E-safety Support WebinarsCracking down on dangers like cyber-bullying, trolling and under-age access to porn, the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy proposes:

  • A new social media code of practice to see a joined-up approach to remove or address bullying, intimidating or humiliating online content;
  • An industry-wide levy so social media companies and communication service providers contribute to raise awareness and counter internet harms;​
  • An annual internet safety transparency report to show progress on addressing abusive and harmful content and conduct;
  • And support for tech and digital startups to think safety first - ensuring that necessary safety features are built into apps and products from the very start.
  • In the past year, almost one fifth of 12-15 year olds encountered something online that they ‘found worrying or nasty in some way’ and 64% of 13-17 year olds have seen images or videos offensive to a particular group. Nearly half of adult users also say they have seen something that has upset or offended them on social media.

    The Internet Safety Green Paper aims to tackle these growing dangers, while continuing to embrace the huge benefits and opportunities the Internet has brought for British citizens.

    Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Karen Bradley said:

    The Internet has been an amazing force for good, but it has caused undeniable suffering and can be an especially harmful place for children and vulnerable people.
    Behaviour that is unacceptable in real life is unacceptable on a computer screen. We need an approach to the Internet that protects everyone without restricting growth and innovation in the digital economy.
    Our ideas are ambitious - and rightly so. Collaboratively, government, industry, parents and communities can keep citizens safe online, but only by working together.

    The strategy sets out the government’s ambition to create a strong framework which can tackle online harms. All options will be carefully considered, working collaboratively with industry and charities and supporting children, parents and carers.

    Today’s is the first generation of children who are learning about relationships and sex in an online world. So the Strategy also outlines the crucial role that education will play in raising online safety awareness, with a particular focus on children and parents:

  • New compulsory school subjects – Relationship Education at primary and Relationship & Sex Education at secondary to provide online safety education;
  • Social media safety advice – Government will encourage social media companies to offer safety advice and tools to parents and safety messages will be built into online platforms;
  • Safety features highlighted – Government will work to raise awareness around the safety products and features that are available for parents.
  • It is proposed that the UK Council for Child Internet Safety becomes the UK Council for Internet Safety to consider the safety of all users, not just children, and help deliver the measures within the Strategy.

    Vicki Shotbolt, Chief Executive Officer at Parent Zone said:

    Meeting the challenges of the digital age is something parents do every day. It is encouraging to see the government proposing concrete steps to ensure that industry is doing everything they can to support families and make the Internet a place that contributes to children flourishing.

    David Wright, Director of the UK Safer Internet Centre said:

    As the national centre dedicated to making the UK the safest place in the world to be online, the UK Safer Internet Centre, a partnership of three charities - Childnet, the Internet Watch Foundation and South West Grid for Learning – welcomes the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy, which reflects our own work and priorities.
    Technology plays a fundamental role in everyone’s lives presenting both opportunities and threats. Our aim, like this strategy, is to promote national collaboration around these issues to deliver positive change among children and young people across the UK - and those who support them - through education and increased awareness of the safe and responsible use of technology.

    As part of our work to make Britain the safest place in the world to be online, today’s announcement complements the action already taken by government to stop the spread of poisonous material and propaganda on the internet that could lead people down the path towards terrorism.

    Recently the UK and France joined forces to tackle online radicalisation with plans that could lead to much stronger action against tech companies who fail to remove unacceptable content.



    About the Green Paper


    The Government has already consulted a wide range of stakeholders including charities, academic researchers and technology companies while developing the objectives and initiatives in the Green Paper.

    This is just the first part of work to develop a Digital Charter, which will provide a framework for how businesses and individuals should act online so everyone can benefit from new technologies.

    Alongside the Strategy, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has published a literature review undertaken by Professor Sonia Livingstone, Professor Julia Davidson, and Dr Joanna Bryce, on behalf of the UK’s Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) Evidence Group.

    While DCMS will take a leading role in delivering the Strategy, it will work with a wide range of partners across Government, including the Home Office, the Department for Education, the Department for Health and the Ministry of Justice.

    A number of key findings on internet safety are compiled in the Green Paper:
    Reporting to social media companies is low amongst those who recognise they have been cyberbullied. Children, particularly those who had no direct experience of reporting issues, had little confidence in social media companies to resolve cyberbullying (Cyberbullying: Research into the industry guidelines and attitudes of 12-15 year olds. Family Kids & Youth. (2017)).

    The amount of children exposed to hate content online seems to be rising. 64% of children and young people aged 13-17 have seen people posting images or videos that are offensive to a particular targeted group (Power of image: A report into the influence of images and videos in young people’s digital lives, UK Safer Internet Centre (2017)).

    More than four in ten adults users say they have seen something that has upset or offended them on social media in the past 12 months (Adults’ media use and attitudes, - Ofcom report (2017)).

    Ofcom estimates that the average weekly time spent online for all adults in 2016 was 22.9 hours, 1.3 hours more than 2013. 5-15 year olds spend 15 hours a week online; exposing themselves to risks. Even 3-4 year olds who go online are spending 8 hours per week doing so (Children and parents: media use and attitudes, Ofcom (2016))

    In the past year, almost one fifth of 12-15 year olds encountered something online that they ‘found worrying or nasty in some way’ (Children and parents: media use and attitudes, Ofcom (2016)).

    Half of UK adult internet users say they have concerns about what is on the Internet. These concerns relate mainly to offensive/ illegal content (38%), risks to others/ society (22%) and concerns about security/ fraud (20%). Other concerns include personal privacy (9%) and advertising (7%) (Adults’ media use and attitudes, Ofcom (2017)).

    The consultation will close at 12 noon on Thursday 7 December 2017. The Government expects to provide a response to the consultation in early 2018.

    Written by E-safety Support on October 12, 2017 09:27

    E-safety in 2016

    A review of the e-safety related events of 2016


    In the final E-safety Support article of the year, we thought it would be an ideal opportunity to look back at some of the highs and lows that have shaped the world of e-safety during 2016.

    We also take a look forward to the opportunities in 2017.



    Spring Term

      In the spring term, the European Union launched a forum bringing together Internet firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter as well as law enforcement agencies to combat online extremism.

      Police revealed that children as young as EIGHT are 'sexting' explicit images to each other.

      A survey of more than 4,700 teenagers revealed that almost half think cyberbullying is a bigger issue than drug abuse among young people

      Safer Internet Day 2016 took place with the theme Play your part for a better internet, which reached 2.8 million children!

    Summer Term

      In the summer term, it was announced that pornographic websites will require users to verify their age in a bid to stop children viewing harmful material online. Companies that fail to put safeguards in place will face civil sanctions under a new legal framework.

      The ASCL released details of a report which reported that rising numbers of young people are suffering from mental health issues such as anxiety and stress. It suggested that today's children are facing an "extraordinary range" of pressures - including modern technology - and specialist care needs to be available.

      Action for Children reported that One in seven (15%) children has bullied others online, while nearly 60% of children responded that they bullied to fit in with a certain social group.

      Twitter suspended 125,000 'terrorism' accounts after global calls to counter extremism online.

    Autumn Term

      At the beginning of the autumn term, the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) released a guidance document for schools on dealing with ‘Youth Produced Sexual Imagery’ (YPSI) or more commonly known as ‘sexting’. This was followed by new guidance from the Police to prevent criminalising some young people involved in sexting.

      The annual Ofcom report, Children and parents: media use and attitudes report 2016, indicated that the Internet has overtaken television as the top media pastime for the UK’s children.

      The NSPCC recorded an 88% rise in children seeking help for online abuse. The number of children who contacted ChildLine increased by more than 2,000 over five-year period.

      A School for teenage codebreakers is to open in Bletchley Park. The sixth-form College of National Security will teach cyber skills to some of Britain’s most gifted youngsters to fight growing threat.

    What have been your significant moments of 2016?
    There has been much to consider regarding online safety during 2016. Schools have once again felt the pressure of added risks that young people face when using the Internet. We would love to hear your thoughts. What have been the most significant e-safety developments or risks that have affected you, your school or your pupils? What do you think will be the biggest online safety challenge of 2017? Please use the comments section below to let us know.

    New from E-safety Support in 2017
    Look out for our new assembly for Safer Internet Day which will be available in early January. We will also be releasing a new cyber bullying assembly in the new year as well as issuing a new governor online training course.

    You may have already noticed that the E-safety Support website has been getting a new fresh look. Over the coming days, we will be rolling out the new designs to give our members a new user dashboard area too. We will also be adding additional member features which will be announced in January. Watch out for your member email bulletins for further information.

    Written by E-safety Support on December 14, 2016 16:19


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