Digital Awareness and E-Safety for Parents
We have a comprehensive e-safety programme which addresses current and arising on-line concerns and are building links with other local schools and safeguarding teams to enable us to offer a more comprehensive approach to arising concerns such as the sharing of images on social media. Our Academy’s latest information and guidance on digital awareness for parents and children is available by clicking on this document: Digital Awareness for Parents and Children of the Steiner Academy Hereford.
Latest Digital Awareness Information for Parents
(Arranged in date order with most recent first)
Parent and Carer Online Toolkit (Childnet)
The new non-statutory guidance published in the summer, Teaching Online Safety (2019, DfE), recommends that schools ‘Proactively [engage] staff, pupils and parents/carers in school activities that promote the agreed principles of online safety’ (see paragraph 42).
Childnet have updated their parent and carer toolkit that will help parents have conversations about online safety. Their booklet ‘Let’s talk about life online’ includes ten key messages that should be shared with children:
1. “You can always come to me if you need help.”
2. “What would you do if this happened…?”
3. “Remember that not everyone is who they say they are online.”
4. “Keep your personal information safe, and other people’s too.”
5. “Be respectful to others online.”
6. “Think before you post.”
7. “Remember to ask if it’s okay.”
8. “Remember not everything is true online.”
9. “The things other people post online might not always show what their life is really like.”
10. “Recognise how going online makes you feel and take a break when you need to.” (Posted 7 November 2019
The NSPCC has published a blog on how teachers can recognise the signs of grooming and take action. The blog covers watching out for unusual behaviour, being alert to smaller signs of grooming and talking to young people if you notice something. Source: NSPCC Learning: Grooming is often discovered not disclosed – so how can teachers spot the signs? (Posted: 22 May 2019)
New Guidelines for screen time
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has published new guidelines on screen time for young children. The guidelines recommend children under three have no sedentary screen time and children aged 3 to 4 should have no more than an hour. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPH) responded to these guidelines, stating that they are “useful benchmarks” but the screen time limits are disproportionate to the harm caused. The RCPH also states that barriers to physical activity for children are often related to housing, family stress, and lack of access to play spaces. Source: WHO (Posted 13 May 2019)
Report on the role of technology within families and online safety
SWGfl has released a report on the role of technology within families and online safety. Responses have been collected from over 20,000 children and SWGfl also worked with Mumsnet and the Internet Watch Foundation to gather information from 1,035 parents. Parents’ biggest concerns were harmful content, bullying and inappropriate contact. Almost two thirds of children reported having online ‘house rules’ but over 60% know how to bypass some or all of these rules. The report concludes that ‘house rules’ help address some concerns but cannot replace an open dialogue about online safety.Further information: Young people, internet use and wellbeing; a report series: technology in the home (PDF) (Posted 13 May 2019)
– Swiggle. A child-friendly search engine from the Online Safety experts at SWGfL. Designed to make searching the internet for images or content more than `hit and miss’. Click here to find out more. (Posted 11 March 2019)
Kiddle – Kiddle is a ‘child-friendly’ search engine from America. (Posted 11 March 2019)
NSPCC – Online safety (Posted 8 March 2019)
THINK U KNOW – Keep your children safe from harm. (Posted 8 March 2019)
UK Safer Internet Centre – online safety tips, advice and resources to help children and young people stay safe online. (Posted 8 March 2019)
Useful Digital Awareness Sites for Parents
Childnet – Childnet’s mission is to work in partnership with others around the world to help make the internet a great and safe place for children. (Posted February 2019)
Common Sense Media – Independent reviews, age ratings and other information about all types of media. (Posted February 2019)
Internet Matters – Helping parents keep their children safe online (Posted February 2019)
Mumsnet – By parents, for parents. (Posted February 2019)
NSPCC – Online safety (Posted 8 March 2019)
YoungMinds – Child and Adolescent Mental Health (Posted February 2019)
Article on Potential Negative Impacts of Social Media and Gaming
Impact on Sleep
Heavy usage can have a negative impact on physical well-being which in turn can affect mental health. This is particularly relevant when it comes to sleep disturbance. Several studies have linked sleep difficulties to screen time.
Whether it is the blue light of screens affecting sleep quality and quantity or the behavioural disturbances that make young people wake to check their phones, reduced sleep is an important issue when it comes to mental health. Sleep is crucial for the developing adolescent brain, and lack of sleep is associated with lower mood and depression.
Use as life comparing tool
While social media was initially set up as means of connecting with others it is now also used as a means of comparing. It has become a barometer of how we measure up to others and this is a particular issue for young people who are socialized through the school system to ‘grade’ themselves in relation to their peers. As a consequence, many of the longitudinal studies done in this area suggest that we are increasingly engaging in “passive use” of social media – this is where we look at other peoples’ pictures and lives and compare them to our own and it is bad for our mental health.
The nature of social media is such that most people present the highlights of their lives more regularly than the boring stuff so these highlights appear to be the norm. Indeed we tend to post when we are on a high and surf other peoples pages when we are on a low, so the differential between our real lives and the idealized lives we see on screen is further amplified leading us to feel like we can’t measure up and that we are missing out. This can impact mental well-being, making one feel inferior and inadequate.
Chasing `likes’ on post to drive self-worth / self-esteem
If I wanted to devise a ‘thinking’ exercise in poor self-esteem, I would get someone to take dozens of pictures, edit them, post them for others to evaluate and then if they don’t get enough validation through `likes’, comments or reposts, have them start all over again. This increased self-awareness and impression management that is inherent in Social Media engagement is, I think, the third area that impacts mental health.
Being too active on social media and worrying about regularly posting pictures and status updates has been linked to anxiety, poor body image and diminished mental health. The constant seeking of approval from others and searching for external validation means that young people do not develop a secure sense of self that is not dependant on arbitrary conditions of worth. This preoccupation with how other people react to what we post on social media can lead young people to feel unsure about their value. They may start to worry about how they are seen, making them more self-critical of both their physical appearance and their lives in general. Constant posting may also open them up to receiving more negative or mean comments on line, rather than compliments or praise. Potentially they may be more at risk of being cyber-bullied which has been linked to serious depression and even suicidal behaviour in extreme cases.
Potential Addiction and Exploitation when Playing Online Games
In the ‘Gaming world’, computer game designers create features that ‘ensnare’ users to want to play more and make increased personal commitments to the activity. For example, in a popular current online combat game ‘Fortnight’, players are awarded free ‘skins’ as a kind of armour to use in their quest. However, as the player progresses, options to purchase enhanced, more powerful skins are offered to the player. Because the player wants do well they are motivated to purchase this. Furthermore, because they may be playing the game against others with enhanced armour they will feel further peer pressure to purchase this to keep up with others. There is an epidemic of children spending large amounts of money to buy such online computer game ‘add-ons’.