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E-Safety for Parents

ESafety Resources for Parents

At The Colne, we educate and protect our students in their use of ICT and the internet. We aim to constantly reinforce the responsibilities that our students have when surfing the web through ICT lessons and Year group assemblies. Within school, filtered internet usage is regularly monitored and browsing information is stored for reporting purposes.
Obviously, we can only provide these safeguards within school – it is equally important that students are encouraged to use the internet safely and responsibly on mobile devices and outside of school.

To help you and your children to stay safe online there is a series that consists of six short films for parents and six matching films for students to help empower your family to use social media safely and responsibly.

The videos look at the ways in which the internet and digital technology can be used positively by young people as well as identifying the potential issues they may face.

They cover the most critical themes in online safety today including:

Cyberbullying

What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is any form of bullying that takes place online, or using digital devices such as smartphones or tablets.

How cyberbullying occurs
Cyberbullying that is instigated by peers largely takes place on social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook following a fall out or as a way to draw negative attention to someone. Young people also face cyberbullying from people they have never even met in person on forums, chatrooms and open social media profiles, which is why it is important to keep your personal details and social media profiles private.

How it makes your child feel
Although cyberbullying is a form of bullying, the effects can differ greatly from face-to-face bullying. When you are bullied online, particularly in situations where many people can see it happening, it is extremely humiliating. Often onlookers are waiting to see how you will respond, and sometimes it can be hurtful just to see that no one is stepping in to stand up for or support you.

Cyberbullying can occur any time, any place – when your child is on holiday, when playing with friends, when doing homework. So they may feel trapped in the sense that they are unable to escape the abuse. In addition to the emotions your child may be feeling after being bullied, they have the added pressure of knowing that any videos, pictures or comments posted about them may be permanent. Once something is posted online, it can be visible for you and others to see, years down the line.

What to do if your child is being cyberbullied
• Talk to them about it if you spot any warning signs that they may be being bullied. Try to be non-judgmental and understanding, then offer your advice and support.
• Get evidence of the bullying. Screen shots are an effective way of capturing evidence so that it can be shown to others when needed.
• Block the person bullying them so that your child and the cyberbully aren’t able to communicate with each other.
• Report cyberbullies to the social networks, web masters or admins themselves so they can step in to try to rectify the situation.
• Ignore cyberbullies instead of retaliating where possible. As with all bullying, the bullies usually want to get a reaction out of you.
• Privacy is key when it comes to protecting yourself from anonymous cyberstalkers or trolls. Encourage your child to switch their privacy settings to share content only with their ‘friends’.
• Age limits on social networks, apps and games should be communicated to your child (e.g. the Terms of Use on Instagram state that you must be at least 13 years old to use the service).
• Escalate to your child’s school or the police for support if the situation is serious and you notice that your child is getting upset, being threatened or you are seeing signs of self-harm.

The Digital Footprint

What is the digital footprint?
The digital footprint is the trail of digital information we leave behind us when we do anything online – when we share things, search for things, join groups or buy things.

This footprint can be searched for and shared by people we know and people we don’t. One of the simplest ways people can discover their digital footprint is by searching for themselves using search engines such as Google, but this is by no means the most effective way of accessing your footprint.

Why does the digital footprint matter?
It is good to ensure that your child is mindful of how the things they share online could be discovered by friends, family, strangers or even their grandchildren in years to come! When it comes to applying for jobs or for University, the digital footprint matters as many organisations and Universities will do a digital footprint screening before considering you for a position.

It is therefore important to ensure not only that embarrassing pictures or inappropriate comments are not easily discoverable, but that only content that reflects your child in a positive light is visible. This could be anything from a creative YouTube CV to an interesting photography blog they have developed.

Managing your child’s digital footprint
Once you and your child have searched for your footprints online, here’s how you can work with your child if you find information you don’t want to be visible online:

• Delete any content that features on your child’s online accounts that they are not happy with e.g. their Facebook page.
• Un-tag your child from any content they do not want to be associated with (tagging is a way of identifying someone in a picture, video or comment on social media).
• Deactivate or delete any social media accounts or online profiles they are signed up to but do not want to use any more.
• Privacy settings on your child’s online accounts should be set to a standard you are both happy with, to ensure you are comfortable with who is seeing the content your child is posting.
• Private information such as your child’s home address, the school they go to, or their location should not be disclosed to people they do not trust. Remind them of the importance of not sharing this information.
• Report any content that your child wants to be removed to the social networks themselves, using the site’s reporting function, requesting that it gets deleted.
• Talk to anyone directly who has posted content of your child and request that it is deleted (you may need to contact the webmaster if the content is hosted on a website).
• Gain control of your digital footprint by posting things online that you would be happy for, or even encourage others to discover.

Identity and Self-esteem

Image, identity and social media
Today we hear lots about the sorts of pressures young people face online when it comes to how they look and present their lives. Expectations from ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ to create that perfect selfie, or to portray yourself as being fashionable, popular or interesting online can be overwhelming. It may also leave us questioning who we really are versus how we showcase ourselves online – ‘self vs selfie’.

Why this issue is on the rise
There are a number of reasons why this issue is on the rise. Here are some of the key reasons:

1. Increased access to technology allows us to not only share various aspects of our lives and see what others are doing 24/7 via smartphones, tablets etc, it also allows others to comment on and engage with the content we share anytime, anywhere.

2. Trends in visual sharing through apps such as Snapchat and Instagram, which are heavily focused on sharing videos and images, have fuelled the selfie movement, encouraging you to broadcast snapshots of your life.

3. Online influencers such as YouTubers, Instagrammers and other celebrities regularly share content that presents the way they look and the things they do in a desirable light.

4. Popularity of photo editing apps are making it easier than ever for you to edit images of yourself – change your body shape, your skin tone or even the size of your eyes with the aim of making yourself look more aesthetically appealing.

How it makes your child feel
Social media is a fantastic tool for self-expression and while for most that expression of our identity is healthy and even confidence-inducing, some are left feeling open to judgement, criticism or generally feeling insecure as our lives are not as perfect as others seem to be. The vast majority of young people are able to manage these emotions, but for some it can lead to physical and mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, even eating disorders.

How to deal with identity and self-esteem issues:
• Share management tactics with your child such as digital detoxes (setting time aside to have a break from being online) or only following people who make them feel positive and inspired.
• Discuss self-worth reiterating that social media should not just be all about hiding the aspects of our lives and ourselves we do not like, it should be about presenting yourself in a way that shows you value who you really are.
• Talk regularly about any trends they are seeing in the use of social media (such as the infamous ‘thigh gap’ trend) and how it makes them feel about themselves.
• Seek medical help if you are at all concerned that they may be suffering from physical or mental health issues such as anxiety, depression or an eating disorder.

Relationships and Grooming

What is online grooming and how does it occur?
Grooming happens when someone builds a friendship or romantic relationship with a child for the purposes of exploitation or sexual abuse.

Online groomers could be strangers, or someone they may know – a friend of a friend for example. Groomers use all sorts of tactics online to engage with children; this could be achieved by gaming with them, talking to them in chat rooms, by giving them compliments on their appearance on social media or in some cases by blackmailing them.

How are relationships built online?
Whilst we are used to hearing stories about adults meeting each other online, many are surprised to hear that young people are also using the internet, and social media in particular, as a tool for flirting and seeking relationships. At 13 years old, children are able to access dating apps to publically search for romantic connections. Social networks such as Snapchat, Facebook or WhatsApp allow young people to privately or publically exchange romantic communication through pictures, videos and text.

What to do if you are concerned about relationships and grooming:
• Privacy settings on your child’s online accounts should be set to a standard you are both happy with, to ensure strangers cannot contact them online.
• Private information such as your child’s home address, the school they go to, or their location should not be disclosed to people they do not trust. Remind them of the importance of not sharing this information.
• Talk to them about the dangers of grooming or speaking to strangers online, making them feel that they could come to you if they ever had any concerns or worries.
• Age limits on social networks, apps and games should be communicated to your child (e.g. the Terms of Use on Instagram state that you must be at least 13 years old to use the service).
• Escalate to your child’s school and the police immediately if you have any suspicions that your child may have been groomed.

Security and Privacy

What is private information?
Private information is information that can be discovered online, which reveals your identity. For your child, this could be anything from the school they attend, their date of birth, or the names of family members.

Today, so much gets shared online about who we are, what we are doing and where we are going so it is important that your child is aware that oversharing can have repercussions, especially if private information gets into the wrong hands.

Why it’s important to be secure online
When personal information does get into the wrong hands, it can be used for a number of security breaches, from identity theft to viruses to online grooming.

Often we are not aware when private information is visible to others. For example, it could be that an app that you are using has been disclosing where you are without you knowing that you had enabled it to access your location.

How online scams occur
There are a number of ways online scams can take place. Some of the most common ways people fall victim of cybercrimes are via:
1. Phishing scams, which happen when someone tries to access private information such as passwords or credit card details online by pretending to be a trustworthy entity such as a bank.
2. Insecure websites that may compromise your security by not having basic security measurements in place for example, or by failing to store passwords properly.
3. Having weak passwords which are easy for criminals to hack into (such as ‘password1’). This enables them to easily access your online accounts.
4. Spyware traps, which gather information about you without your knowledge, for example when you create a profile on an insecure website. This information could be shared without your permission or used to control your computer.
5. Viruses, which are programmes or pieces of code that damage your device or computer. Your computer could become infected with a virus by simply clicking on a link that says “You’ve won an iPad!”
6. Sharing private information, as mentioned above

What to do to prevent your child from security scams:
• Talk to them about the dangers of using the internet unsafely, giving examples such as those outlined above, and how easy it can be to become a victim of a security scam.
• Strong passwords should always be encouraged to prevent people from hacking into your child’s online accounts.
• Anti virus software should be activated on the devices your child uses to protect them from harmful software.
• Privacy settings on your child’s online accounts should be set to a standard you are both happy with, to ensure cyber criminals or strangers cannot see the things they post online.
• Private information such as your child’s home address, the school they go to, or their location should not be disclosed to people they don’t trust. Remind them of the importance of not sharing this information.
• Suspicious links should be avoided at all times. Your child must be aware that they may infect their devices or computers with a virus just by clicking on a link that says “free downloads”.
• Secure websites usually have a padlock symbol in the address bar and a web address starting with https://. If your child is aware of that it may help them to think twice before sharing private information such as card details on a website when paying for something
• Looking after their tech is important if your child is to learn that leaving their devices unattended or forgetting to log out of their online profiles could leave them open to security breaches.

Sexting

What is sexting?
Sexting is the act of sending or receiving sexually explicit content such as text, video or an image. This often happens via digital devices such as mobile phones and tablets.

How sexting occurs
Sexting often takes place on social media networks such as Snapchat or Kik and the content can be shared between people in relationships, friendships or strangers. Sexting most commonly happens between two people in a relationship, but is also considered to be a method for flirting if the participants are not yet in a relationship.

Whilst sadly there are cases reported where young people have been forced into sexting through grooming, harassment or peer pressure, there are also many sexting cases involving young people where they have sent sexually explicit pictures or videos of themselves without any pressure on them at all. In all cases of sexting, it is imperative that your child is aware of the consequences of sexting.

How it makes your child feel
If your child has sent any sexually explicit content and is in control of who sees it, or was not pressurised into sending it, some say it can make them feel more confident, it can boost self-esteem or make them feel sexy. These are usually their motivations for sharing.

On the other hand, often those sending content lose control of it – usually when the recipient shares the content without the sender’s permission and the effects can be devastating. Sometimes the sender may not have considered that they may fall out or break up with the person they sent it to, yet that person will still have those pictures or videos of them to use as they wish.

Whether they have been blackmailed or pressurised into sexting, or the person they shared the content with has disseminated it without your child’s permission, it can leave them feeling embarrassed, ashamed and humiliated.

What to do if your child has received sexually explicit content:
• Escalate to your child’s school or the police immediately if you discover sexually explicit content of a minor (someone under the age of 18) on their device.
• Talk to your child directly if you discover they have pornographic content of someone over the age of 18 on their device, just as you would approach a conversation about the “birds and the bees”, trying not to pass too much judgment.
• Parental controls you have in place should be revisited to ensure your child isn’t easily able to access pornography on their devices.
• Age limits on social networks, apps and games should be communicated to your child (e.g. the Terms of Use on Instagram state that you must be at least 13 years old to use the service).

What to do if your child has sent sexually explicit content:
• Legal implications of sexting should be communicated to them, so they are aware that they are breaking the law.
• Talk to them about the situation – how it came about, what their motivation was, how it made them feel etc. Let them open up to you and help them to manage it in their own way.
• Escalate to your child’s school or the police to see if they might be able to support you in stopping the content from being shared further, as well as discussing any disciplinary action that needs to be taken, particularly if it is a case of revenge porn.