How To Keep Children Safe Online When Using Social Media

1 in every 5 parents think that there are no age requirements for joining a social media site and most parents in the UK have no idea whether their children are old enough to have a social media account.


L2S Social MediaIf parents have little idea about the minimum age restriction for signing up to a social media platform then is it down to schools to educate pupils and even their parents about what these age restrictions are? In a bid to protect young people from online bullying and social predators, as well as ensuring they are keeping on the right side of the law, just who’s responsibility is it to keep children safe online?

With more than four in five 13 -18 year olds having seen "online hate", including offensive or threatening language on social media sites, it is evident that many young people are not always being exposed to just positive experiences online.

CBBC Newsround, (some Countryfile viewers will remember it as John Craven’s Newsround in days gone by), conducted a survey, which identified that more than three-quarters of children aged 10 to 12 in the UK have social media accounts, even though they are below the minimum age limit.

Why Do Age Restrictions Matter?

There’s a reason why children must be aged 12 and over and at least 135cm tall before they are allowed to sit in the front passenger seat of a car using an adult seat belt. It’s the same reason that young people are not allowed to gamble in betting shops and casinos until they are 18 or drink alcohol before they reach the same age. Age restrictions are about keeping children safe until they are old enough to engage with an activity with complete awareness of what they’re letting themselves in for.

The Social Media Landscape For Young People Is Changing

Becoming a teenager however, brings with it peer pressure previously not experienced, when suddenly, at 13, the child is no longer a child but a teenager. It’s an exciting as well as bewildering time becoming a new teenager and rites of passage, such as creating a Facebook profile are a sign of personal growth and approaching adulthood. However, for some, wanting to become a teenager starts before they reach 13 and recent figures show that 78% of children under that age have at least one social media account already.

Do You Know Your Social Media Age Restrictions?

The majority of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Reddit, Tumblr, Google+, Pinterest have a minimum age requirement of 13. YouTube is 18, as is the photo sharing site Flickr, although a child can sign up to YouTube account at just 13 with their parent’s permission. The mobile chat app WhatsApp is unusual in so far as it has a minimum age requirement of 16.

With such variation when it comes to age restrictions for joining social media sites, is it any wonder that children, parents and teachers are uncertain what the rules of engagement are? Social Media sites themselves are coming under increasing pressure to make their platforms safer environments for young people and a good first step would be to ensure that age restrictions are much clearer on sign up pages.

How Do You Help Your Children Stay Safe Online?

It's important that parents & teachers guide children on how to stay safe online.

Young people appear to be aware of the dangers from potential trolling and cyber bullying online and more than two-thirds knew they could report such issues but felt that people were much more likely to ignore their concerns.

There is obviously a positive aspect to allowing children access to online sites and Hannah Broadbent, from the UK Safer Internet Centre, told the BBC: "It's so important that we show children what other things they can do using digital technology that are engaging, creative and age-appropriate. It's about showing them what else it could be and inspiring them with that."

Ultimately, as adults we all have a responsibility to ensure that children are safe when surfing the internet and social media platforms.

What Advice Is Available?

If you have parents who and looking for advice on how to keep children safe online then they can visit Internet Matters.

The site was founded by the UK's four major broadband providers; BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media with the BBC and Google recently joining as partners and offers advice on everything from setting parental controls on devices to cyber bullying and sexting.

Through Internet Matters, parents are able to access the tools, information and guidance they need to make the right decisions.

The online education site E-safety Support helps teaches in their role of protecting children when they’re online by offering both educational material for teaching children, and also training for teachers across a number of e-safety topics. In January of 2017, research commissioned by Besa (British Education Suppliers Association) called for e-safety to become a part of every teacher’s ongoing CPD when a survey of 1,300 ICT lead teachers revealed that around half thought that teachers lacked the required e-safety training.

Both parents and teachers can take action by helping children understand how to manage the risk online by applying these useful tips I came across on the site Wales Online:

  • Show them how to set privacy settings at the strongest level. Sites can change privacy settings so make sure you stay up to date with them.
  • Report people and inappropriate conversations to the site administrator via the ‘help’ or ‘report’ tab (if available) and always keep a copy of the conversation as evidence.
  • Teach your child how to block or ignore people on social networking sites and online games, and support them in knowing what they can do if someone makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Set boundaries about which sites they can use and for how long. Try to do this when they first start using social networking sites, so they get used to it from a young age.
  • Teach your child never to share any personal details – this includes their password, real name, address and their school.
  • There’s no question that the internet brings with it wonderful opportunities for children to learn about and explore the world we live in. But just as you wouldn’t send a 10 year old out of the front door with a suitcase and suggest they travel the world unsupervised to expand their horizons, then by accompanying them on their online journeys we can at least help ensure their e-safety and a bright digital future.



    We would like to thank our guest blogger Steve Phillip for his thoughts on this topic. If you would like to share your comments or suggestions on underage use of social media sites, please use the comments section below.

    Written by Steve Phillip on July 06, 2017 11:00

    The improvement of knowledge is our best investment

    Continued Professional Development (CPD) for school staff is critical in providing children with the right information and education to stay safe online.


    Training CPD
    Whether you’re an architect, an IT programmer or a worker in a fast food chain, CPD plays a crucial part in developing human ability, improving working practice and enabling advancement. Take it away and we find our knowledge becomes antiquated, our skills dated and our clients’ trust and confidence eroded. For some professions, a lack of continued training doesn’t just carry commercial consequences. It can also have a serious impact on people’s health and wellbeing.

    CPD has never been more important than for those who have a responsibility for the care and protection of others, particularly children. Whilst all state schools have five days set aside by the Government (known as inset days) when schools are closed to children but open for teacher training, many believe this isn’t enough. In February this year, following a report by the Education Select Committee, Schools Week reported that MPs had called for a national CPD annual entitlement. The committee, who has been compiling written and oral evidence on teacher recruitment and retention since 2015, urged the Government to “recognise its own role in promoting the professional development of teachers”, including a “central statement of annual CPD entitlement” for each teacher, which would help improve teacher retention rates. The report stated teachers in England have no entitlement to CPD – even though teachers in Scotland are entitled to 35 hours a year, with teachers in Singapore given 100 hours a year. They also recommended the Government release “targeted funding” for CPD, and said Ofsted should check schools are encouraging CPD during its inspections.

    With teachers’ time being squeezed to the optimum with marking, lesson planning and managing those everyday unplanned incidents, it can leave little time for training. On-site training can be difficult to organise and requires a large group of staff in order to realise the best value from the costs imposed. This means using inset days, organising time outside the school day or taking staff out of lessons that then need to covered by somebody else.

    With technology evolving at such a rapid pace, online safety training in particular is not something that can just be held once a year, ticked off the list and then scheduled for a refresh at an inset day in a year’s time. Children are discovering new apps, games and forums continuously and the risk landscape is constantly shifting. In January of this year, research commissioned by Besa (British Education Suppliers Association) called for e-safety to become a part of every teacher’s ongoing CPD when a survey of 1,300 ICT lead teachers revealed that around half thought that teachers lacked the required e-safety training. The research stated that “there’s a wide range of jargon and terminology that a pupil may be using, both in reference to drugs and radicalisation that teachers really struggle to keep on top of.”

    But with budgets squeezed and teachers’ time at a premium, how do we ensure teachers and supporting school staff receive the e-safety training that they need? The answer comes in taking this training online. Online courses can provide a better alternative to holding group training sessions, giving teachers and staff more flexibility when it comes to the time they choose for their training. Rather than having to block out a certain date and time, teachers can complete the training at a time convenient to them. Online training sessions also have the advantage of being much cheaper than bringing in a dedicated training company.

    Training CPD KnowledgeSo, with CPD very much on the education agenda, is it time you reviewed the e-safety training in your school? With an increased emphasis on providing children with the knowledge they need to use the Internet responsibly, it’s more important than ever that we recognise that all school staff play an important role in imparting e-safety knowledge and advice, not just the teachers.



    Review our training courses today for free
    E-safety Support provides CPD certified teacher training. Whilst some other online training providers charge on a per user or per course basis, E-safety Support is different. Our membership structure means that the whole school pays just one annual fee to access all the e-safety courses available. There’s no restriction on how many of your school community can receive the training so teachers, senior leaders, governors and support staff can all receive the same level of training as and when they need it. To preview our courses today with no obligation, sign up here for a free membership to E-safety Support. Premium Plus members can distribute the training by logging into your E-safety Support dashboard.

    Written by E-safety Support on September 21, 2017 10:15

    Leading from the front

    The governing body is fundamental in driving a continued, proactive approach to online safety


    Social Media TreeIn a world where technology seems to be evolving at an ever increasing pace, the role of the school governor has never been more important.

    Whilst it’s difficult to imagine a time before social media existed, let alone the Internet, it’s incredible to think that it was actually only four and half years ago that Ofsted first incorporated the briefing for the inspection of e-safety into its section 5 criteria. Since then, things have changed dramatically, with regular revisions being applied to reflect changing ways in which technology is being both used and manipulated within our society.

    Indeed, September 2016 saw some new additions, with Ofsted updating and republishing their guidance on ‘Inspecting Safeguarding in early years, education and skills’ to correspond with the changes to the latest version of the DfE’s Keeping Children Safe in Education’ statutory guidance on safeguarding. Amongst the updates included the clarification that designated members of staff for safeguarding need to have training every two years and their knowledge and skills should be refreshed at least annually.

    One of the responsibilities of the governing body is to approve and promote the schools online safety policy and review its effectiveness, yet an Ofsted survey held as recently as 2015 revealed that 5% of schools still didn’t have an online safety policy and for those that did, only 74% of students were aware of it.

    Whilst all schools should have a clearly defined online safety policy, a typed piece of paper will do little by itself, other than to serve as another box ticked. The key to the success of any initiative is how it is both managed and delivered. In the 2008 government report ‘Safer Children in an Online World’, it was found that schools who were ranked outstanding largely took a shared responsibility for the delivery of the policy, leaving it not just to the safeguarding staff, but including members of the wider workforce. The section 5 Ofsted assessment places great importance on the extent to which leaders, governors and managers create a positive culture and ethos where safeguarding is an important part of everyday life in the school setting, and this should be backed up by training at every level.

    E-safety training is recommended for all governors, and best practice concedes that every school should have a nominated e-safety governor that remains separate from the ICT link governor as e-safety is recognised as a safeguarding, rather than an IT issue. The role of the e-safety governor involves overseeing 5 key areas:

    1. Managing, reviewing, promoting and evaluating the adherence to the online safety policy and strategy
    2. Ensuring the right mechanisms are in place to support pupils, staff and parents facing online safety issues, including the designation of a safeguarding lead who is trained to support staff and liaise with other agencies
    3. Making certain that all staff receive appropriate online safety training that is relevant and that the training is refreshed annually
    4. Measuring the effectiveness of child online safety education in the school, with the aim of delivering education that builds knowledge, skills and confidence
    5. Educating parents and the whole school community about online safety

    With Ofsted having recently placed a greater emphasis on inspecting the effectiveness of the governing body, it’s become even more important that the governors work cohesively with the DSL and the senior leadership team, particularly in the area of safeguarding. This will drive the momentum required to continuously and proactively deliver online safety education and e-safety best practice throughout the year, not just if and when a safeguarding issue arises or when it is felt an inspection might be on the horizon.

    So, whilst the online threats might have changed with the progression of technology, the reasons how and why schools perform well in online safety hasn’t. Strong leadership remains pivotal in the delivery of a successful policy, whilst training is vital in keeping knowledge and skills up to date. At the same time, assemblies, parent workshops, tutorial time, PSHE lessons, and an age-appropriate curriculum for e-safety all help pupils to become safe and responsible users of new technologies.



    A checklist for governors is available to all E-safety Support Free members and can be downloaded from the guidance section of the dashboard. Governors can also learn more about their digital safeguarding responsibilities with our bespoke online training for governors, available to E-safety Support Premium Plus members

    Social Media Devices

    Written by E-safety Support on May 12, 2017 08:33


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