On Wednesdays’ newsletter I wrote about some E-Safety issues that have come to my attention, particularly regarding children’s access to instant messaging applications such as Instagram, What’s App and Snap Chat.
This week I have spent some time talking to our older children about the way in which they use mobile phones; most of which through 3g or wifi, have access to the Internet and a variety of social network applications. Three main issues emerged:
Firstly, it is clear that the vast majority of 9-11 year olds have a mobile phone that they use without a great deal of supervision. Secondly, a significant number of children have established ‘friendships’ (by confirming them as a friend on their social networks) with people who they do not know and cannot identify. This is, potentially, putting children in vulnerable situations. Finally, I have also discovered from talking to children that some of them have been recorded (on video by friends), and that some of these videos (as far as I can gather the content is completely innocent and not inappropriate in anyway) have been distributed to ‘friendship groups’ via social networking.
I can understand that some Parents/Carers may feel that I am interfering and may consider that what children do in their own time, outside school, is none of my business. However, I would like Parents/Carers to take some time to watch the video below. It is produced by CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) and it highlights the potential dangers when we fail to pay attention to E-Safety issues.
At school we can manage and monitor children’s E-Safety very effectively though our filtering and reporting systems. However, by and large, the devices and applications that children use outside school do not have these ‘fail safe’ features and require the user to exercise significant caution. As Parents we know that children, by their very nature, sometimes find it very difficult to exercise caution; this is especially true when their friends have Facebook (or similar) accounts and actively take part in social networking.
At the start of every half term Mr Handy begins each unit of work with an E-Safety session, but as an immediate response to this issue I have asked him to once again discuss these issues in Computing lessons whilst it is fresh in everyone’s mind (particularly with children in Key Stage Two). As OFSTED pointed out, we have excellent provision for E-Safety at Holy Trinity. I shudder to think how a school without our resources, knowledge and expertise are managing such issues and keeping their children safe.
Next Tuesday is ‘Safer Internet Day’ and we will be posting items relating to the e-safety we teach at school throughout the day.
Furthermore, in the Summer Term, we will be hosting an E-Safety Presentation specifically designed to support Parents and Carers sustain a safe computing environment at home. This was already part of our Computing Action Plan and we are confident that it will reinforce the E-Safety messages we have given children and provide parents with practical, common sense advice.
Jon Smith (Headteacher)