As the world faces unprecedented challenges brought about by the Corona Virus pandemic, teachers and parents around the world have been forced to adapt and adopt digital tools to ensure children still learn. After all, the one thing that is constant about life change. At St Andrew’s School , Turi, we are currently working hard to develop and refine our online curriculum, which is set to ensure children are engaged, motivated and able to fulfil their potential, wherever they may be.
It is an exciting challenge and we recognise the need to help children to make wise choices as they spend more time online. Given our combined expertise in education and child safeguarding, we feel it is our duty to share knowledge and suggestions as a means of equipping those at home to manage pupils’ online interactions.
1. Managing screen time and inappropriate content.
There are a number of tools that help parents to physically manage the time children spend on screens and what they are able to access when online:
For all devices – Net Nanny https://www.netnanny.com/features/parental-controls/
This system operates on all devices. Please see their website (monthly cost)
For mobile devices and tablets – https://ourpact.com This is free for the basic package but has a monthly cost attached if you wish to add their premium features.
Windows 10 – For advice on how to put parental controls in place, please see https://www.netnanny.com/blog/how-to-set-parental-controls-for-windows-10/
2. Ensuring children don’t accidentally access harmful material or interact with anyone who may intend to harm them
The best advise here is to continue to educate. Our Golden Rules include the following:
- Keep personal details safe and secure (don’t share information such as your name, age or address)
- Don’t talk to strangers and remember not everyone you meet on line is who they say they are – never agree to meet a stranger in person
- If something you see or hear makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, tell your parents or a teacher.
- Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your friends, family or future employer to see (this includes photos).
We cannot emphasize enough the importance of communicating with your child. Which means not only do you impart knowledge to them but listen to them as well. As much as possible get insight into their experiences, interests and opinions. What happens online should not be a secret, if your child is on a social media platform, become a ‘friend’ of theirs. Ask questions and talk to them about what concerns they have about being online. For example, is their anything their friends are doing online that they do not agree with?
3. Managing Social Media
Please remember that Apps have a legal age limit. You will be surprised to learn that WhatsApp, has an age limit of 13 and 16 in most of Europe. Most apps require children to be over 13 https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/what-age-can-my-child-start-social-networking/ and even then, we recommend being aware of what your child is doing when on the app.
Children, like all of us need some ‘downtime’. This should involve leaving their screens and doing something physically engaging. The reality today is that for many children, downtime involves playing online games.
While they may enjoy this, please do be aware that some games can lead to addiction and interaction with strangers https://www.internetmatters.org/resources/online-gaming-advice/online-gaming-the-risks/
Time spent online
Where possible, the best downtime for your child will involve fresh air and exercise. Outside of the current situation that requires social distancing, it is also important that they spend time with friends and family, rather than relying on online relationships.
We are living in uncertain times and may not always be prepared for what’s coming but as educators and parents we need to remain vigilant not only of existing but potential dangers as well. This applies both online and offline. As mentioned above despite the need for our children to be online more than usual, there needs to be a balance.
Mrs Clare Scott
Designated Safeguarding Lead
St Andrew’s Prep School