How do we get parents involved in Internet safety?

Ideas and suggestions to help improve parental engagement in e-safety issues

When it comes to young people, we hear all too often that online safety is not just a matter for teachers to educate our pupils, but for parents to take responsibility and for the Internet providers to provide adequate protection at the source. While the latter is a cause that the government is positioned to handle, it still seems that schools are not only in charge of pupil education, but also getting parents up-to-speed too.

The challenge of engaging parents in matters of e-safety is perpetual. Here are E-safety Support we very often speak to schools who are struggling to get the message across to the parents – be that due to poor attendance at open evenings, or simply because it’s just easier for the parent to hand over the iPad to the child because they know how to use it better!

Empowering pupils

However, we also hear some great ideas from schools about how they are dealing with the issue – most recently from Matthew Moss High School in Rochdale. During a recent e-safety day, the school took the decision to empower the children in taking the Internet safety message home to their parents. The pupils completed the online parent training (available from E-safety Support) and then went on to developing posters and slides that they could share with their parents.



Dave Leonard, ICT Manager at Matthew Moss commented, "Having already distributed the ‘Get E-Smart’ pupil training to all students in KS3 we were looking for ways to reinforce the e-safety message to learners. One issue that we face, in common with many schools, is making parents and carers aware of the importance of e-safety. I discussed this with our Head of Family who was running the e-safety day and we decided to try to switch things around by asking learners to train their parents. We used the ‘E-safety Training for Parents’ course as the basis of our work with students and they produced resources and examples with which to facilitate discussions with their parents. The students enjoyed the sense of responsibility and it was a very effective way of ensuring that e-safety is considered at home as well as at school"

Other ideas for schools

Below are some other suggestions that could help engagement with parents at your school.

Parent assemblies - Have your pupils run an e-safety parents assembly – this could be quite powerful if the children themselves point out the risks that they need their parents to help protect them from. Prior to holding such an event, carry out an audit (one is available to E-safety Support Premium Plus members) to highlight key areas of concern, which can then be pinpointed within the session.

Homework books - If your pupils have homework books, perhaps a regular tip, news headline or similar could be included in that to keep the message getting out.

School events - Have an e-safety 'stall' at your next school fair. This could provide an opportunity for parents to have a chat about any concerns they may have or to simply be given more information in a less formal setting.

AUP - Have parents signed an acceptable use policy? Again, this is something you can download from E-safety Support and issue via email.

Pupil surveys - Carry out anonymous surveys of your pupils about time spent online, usage of social media, how they feel about cyberbullying etc and share these results with parents – they may be surprised by the findings.

Videos - If you are using videos from CEOP / NSPCC for example in the classroom, send the link to parents so they can watch it too

Dedicated web page - Make sure your website includes the name of the teacher responsible for e-safety. You could also include:

  1. The e-safety news feed available to all E-safety Support members
  2. A CEOP video - you could start with the one on the subject of grooming, but change it to other topical ones over time - CEOP have a bank of parent videos you could choose from
  3. A link to your school e-safety policy
  4. A link to live stats on web activity to demonstrate the enormity of it (eg http://www.internetlivestats.com/)
  5. Links to the external parent resources such as Internet Matters, Parent Zone, Family Lives and so on
  6. The 'Click CEOP' reporting button

If you have any suggestions that you would like to share with other teachers, please use the comment section below.

Images courtesy of the pupils at Matthew Moss High School

Written by Safeguarding Essentials on March 27, 2018 12:50

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 Safeguarding Essentials on December 07, 2017 11:44

Digital Christmas

Presents unwrap more than paper

With Christmas just around the corner, many children will be hoping for the latest iPhone X, or indeed their first ever phone. Two weeks away from schoolmates and with a new device at their fingertips, children are vulnerable to making online mistakes as they excite in the joy of their new gadget and the opportunity to connect with their friends.

These gifts open them up to a whole new world of fun, opportunity and risk.



These digital kids are no different to children of old – they crave attention and they want to push boundaries and what better way to do it than through social media? As their family sit relaxed enjoying the Christmas TV specials are they aware of just what their children are doing online?

Schools throughout the country offer excellent online safety education and strive to use new and innovative ways to keep the children engaged on the topic. However once children are in the comfort and safety of their own home, perhaps bored due to the lack of structure the holiday brings, they can start to take risks.

By the time the term begins, pastoral staff can find themselves with a queue of children and parents all concerned and upset about social media incidents that have taken place in the holiday period and spilled into the classroom. There is only so much the school can do – parents need to understand that giving a child a device is opening a can of worms.

A step by step approach is needed, no child is allowed to jump on a plane to New York unaccompanied – freedom is given gradually over time, starting with trips to the local shop, then town and so on. Yet with the online world it tends to be all or nothing. Parents need to engage with the online world and replicate the step by step approach to parenting that occurs offline.

As teachers all you can do is signpost your families – they need to know that as the world evolves so does the online offering. Filters on wifi are an easy win for parents, this is not about not trusting your child when they search for things, more ensuring they are protected from images they most likely do not want to see. ChatFOSS is also a useful app – it enables families to communicate with each other in privacy without contact from others – and has an age rating of 3+. It is a great environment for children to practice sending messages and photos.

Whilst teachers strive to educate children about the online world and the opportunities and risks it brings with it, parents also need to be engaged. Easier said than done but it is time parents realised the responsibility of online behaviour has to lie at the door of the parents. Schools can be helpful and offer advice and training, signpost their parents to useful apps such as ChatFOSS and websites such as Internet Matters, but without the parents being involved children will learn the hard way – online mistakes are permanent and there for whole world to see.

E-safety Support would like to thank Alicia from ChatFOSS for her thoughts on this topic. For more information about the ChatFOSS service, click here

Written by Alicia Coad on November 30, 2017 13:44


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