At Holy Trinity we believe that children should not be completely restricted on what they can access but to educate them to make the right choices to become responsible users of technology. We teach online safety throughout the academic year. We can say that we trust our children but we must remember that they are in fact children and it is our duty as adults, parents and carers to support and guide them.
Parents and carers play a key role in helping your child to stay safe online, you don’t need to be an expert! Advice from the school is here to support you so your child to use the internet safely, responsibility and positively.
There is nothing like sitting down with your children and joining in some of their online activities and games to find out just why they find them such fun.
It is important to talk to children and to understand what they are looking at and how they use technology; have the conversation on an ongoing basis about staying safe online. Make sure that it’s a discussion with a positive and supportive outcome rather than an interrogation.
Encourage them to share their experiences and see if they have any advice for you; see what they know and where they know it from. Protecting personal information is essential in staying safe online. Find out from your children what they think is okay to share and what isn’t.
Often going online is something that children are left to do alone which exposes them to risks, instead think about how you can use the internet with your children and any activities that you can enjoy together. Encourage your children to use devices in your company and not something that they do in their rooms alone.
Often children are given devices with internet access by friends and family without considering safety first. It's important to make sure parental controls are set on devices, online accounts and within apps.
Always check the app store that your child will be using has appropriate controls, some offer family accounts where you can manage your child's account and device from your own. It is always good to look at new apps and games with your children and get parental controls in place from the start.
Check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to make your connection safe, many ISPs offer services to filter inappropriate websites and services.
Like films in the UK apps and games are age rated. Where films are rated by the BBFC apps are rated by the different app stores. Each app store maintains its own age rating system and the same app can be rated different on a different device however, like films, games are rated by the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) rating system. It is important to note that, at the time of writing, the PEGI rating system only looks at the content in the game and not in game chat.
When we take our children to the cinema we may decide to take them to a 12A film but we accompany them and ensure that the content is appropriate; this should be the same with apps and games.
Many online games include the option for players to communicate via in-game chat. This can vary from game to game and can be preset messages/symbols, text chat and voice chat. Games and apps for children with chat functions are usually moderated or filtered, it's important to look at each app to decide if it is safe. Voice chat is harder to moderate and therefore is unlikely to be suitable for primary school children.
Most apps and games provide functions to report and block messages, children should be supported to be able to raise concerns and how to block and report comments that make them feel uncomfortable. In many apps and games chat can often be turned off or set to only friends.
Children tend to imitate actions and characters from games, they can often be inappropriate and could cause distress to other children. It is important to look at the content in games before deciding if it is suitable.
If a parent or carer makes the decision to allow their child to play a game that is outside of their age rating it is important that they explain why to the child. It is also important to explain that their friends may not be allowed to also play the game and to be considerate of other children and their parents and carers decisions.