This information is in addition to the information shared at the recent online safety workshops held in school and the information you can find on our school website.
Following recent media stories regarding a viral story being shared on social media, we feel it is a good opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of online safety with our parents. We have sought advice and would like to share the following information with parents and carers.
We appreciate that this story has created some anxiety amongst adults (and children and young people who have seen the images) however it’s important to recognise that most of the current concerns have been fuelled by the recent publicity. Credible reports about this issue are very rare, making it difficult for people to know precisely what is going on. Due to recent publicity it is likely that content is now being created and shared on popular social media apps to generate fear and panic.
Viral stories such as this often contain graphic or distressing imagery; we strongly recommend this is not shared with children. It is also important to recognise that by mentioning specific challenges by name, we may encourage children to explore something that they were previously unaware of, either out of curiosity, or because they want to feel involved in what everyone is talking about.
Online safety is an important part of keeping children safe at Balfour Infant School and is taught to all pupils. We address online safety in all Computing Lesson and as part of our PSHE curriculum. Our curriculum empowers children to become critical thinkers and to understand how they can stay safe and behave appropriately online, but we can only be successful in keeping children safe online if we work with you, as only you can monitor your child’s use of the internet and apps at home. Filters and safeguarding measures in school mean that your child will not be able to access this content in school time.
Talk to your child
- We would not recommend naming concerning challenges or sharing potentially frightening images specifically with children as this can cause them significant upset and distress.
- It’s important that parents find out and learn about what children are doing online; find out what your child is looking at, and judge for yourself if it’s appropriate.
- Learning together with your child can often open opportunities to discuss safe behaviour online. By having regular and open conversations with your child, you’ll provide them with an opportunity to share any concerns they may have.
- childnet.com and www.thinkuknow.co.uk has some useful tips and ideas for parents about starting conversations about online safety.
Do your research
- If you are made aware of a concern being shared on social media, it’s a good idea to check such stories out with a known reliable and trustworthy source. Many headlines and stories use sensationalist language with vague details; if this is the case then it’s possible that it’s not entirely accurate.
- Useful websites that can help determine if an online story is true include:
Take concerns raised by children seriously
- If your child has been exposed to such content and is scared, then it’s important not to dismiss their worries. It doesn’t matter if the fear is real or proportionate, if it’s scaring them, it’s worth listening to them to help them feel reassured and safe.
- Help provide a balanced view to such stories and talk with them about how they can deal with concerns, such as blocking and reporting on websites or apps they use and always talking to a trusted adult if they see something upsetting online.
- Discuss together as a family how the internet will be used in your house and set clear boundaries regarding time-limits, supervision and what they can access.
- Visit sites like internetmatters.org and www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/a-parents-guide for advice about parental controls on consoles and devices.
- Make sure you read any parental guidance and safety recommendations (including age requirements – most popular social networking sites and apps are only for users aged 13+, 16+ or 18+); visit net-aware.org.uk to find out information about some of the most popular apps.
Report any serious risk of harm
- If you are worried that a criminal offence has been committed, then you can report your concerns to the Police. You can contact Kent Police via 101 or 999 if there is immediate risk or you can report online abuse to CEOP by visiting www.ceop.police.uk and using the “Click CEOP” report button.
For more information access:
- www.thinkuknow.co.uk – Visit the “Parent/Carer” Section and use the “Click CEOP” button to seek advice and report online abuse
- www.childnet.com – Visit the ‘’Parent and Carer’ section helpful tools and advice
- www.internetmatters.org – A range of advice and support on issues for parents
- www.nspcc.org.uk/onlinesafety – NSPCC provides information for parents about popular social media sites, apps and games.
- www.saferinternet.org.uk – Parents guides to safety tools on popular devices and signposts report mechanisms for some websites.
- www.kent.police.uk/internetsafety - Guidance from Kent Police
It’s important that we all remember that the internet is an essential part of young people’s lives and provides them with tremendous opportunities. The vast majority use it without coming to any harm so it’s essential to be realistic: banning the internet or web sites often will not work and it can make a child feel less able to report a problem or concern, so education around safe use is essential.
The School Designated Safeguarding Leads (Ms Atkinson, Miss Watson & Mrs Forbes) are available to discuss any help you may need or concerns that you may have
Ms D Atkinson
E-Safety Information for Parents/Carers – to read alongside E-Safety Parents Presentation
E-safety is an important part of our computing curriculum at Balfour and we want to share with you some of the ideas we share with the children and how you can also help them to stay safe when using technology at home.
There are a number of main areas to consider when keeping your child safe on the internet.
Conduct - Children need to be aware of the impact that their online activity can have on both themselves and other people, and the digital footprints that they create on the internet. These footprints may have a longer term impact on their online reputation, well-being and future career prospects. Encourage your children to show respect for others as they would be expected to do offline. It’s easy to feel anonymous online and it’s important that children are aware of who is able to view, and potentially share, the information that they may have posted. Discuss privacy settings and ensure they are set up correctly before your child uses the site. Our main message to the children is always to tell a trusted adult if anything happens online that they didn’t expect, like or want.
Content - Some online content is not suitable for children, some is intended for adults and other content may be hurtful or harmful, such as content expressing extreme views. This sort of content can be accessed and viewed via social networks, online games, apps, blogs and videos. There are filtering options that can be activated on broadband connections and controls on devices that restrict content children can find online. There are links to how to set up parental controls in the information pack. It is also important to remind children to talk to an adult if they are worried or upset by something as parental controls and restrictions are not 100% effective.
It is also important for children to consider the reliability of online material and be aware that it may not always be true. Encourage your child to think about what they have read online and check several websites when searching for information. There can be legal consequences for using and downloading copyrighted content without permission.
Contact - Children can make friends online on a variety of platforms especially through online gaming, such as Fortnite. There have also been some news stories about wifi or Bluetooth connected toys as there has been flaws found that could allow a hacker to talk to your child through the toy. It is important for children to realise that new friends made online may not be who they say they are and that once added they may be able to access their information. We remind the children that personal information like name, age, address and school should only be shared with friends that you and your trusted adults know. We teach them that they know not to give a stranger at the park their information and that people online are strangers too. Again, remind your children to always tell you or another trusted adult if they ever receive any messages from other users that make them feel worried or uncomfortable. If your child is the victim of cyberbullying, this can also be reported online and offline. Any malicious messages should be saved as evidence, and children should be reminded to never retaliate against malicious comments made towards them online.
Commercialism – You may have heard a number of stories about children running up huge bills by clicking yes to in app purchases in games. Ensure that the device or app settings are set up to ask for a password before any money can be spent and ensure your children realise that the money spent within games is real money. Also ensure pop ups are disabled so that adverts and other pop ups do not affect a child’s enjoyment of using the internet. Also encourage children to only use internet sites that you have previously allowed and set up a child safe search engine as a favourite so that older children are able to research topics without being subject to unsuitable sites or images.
It can be hard to know where to start with e safety at home so the UK Safer Internet Centre have put together a checklist of simple steps for you to support your child online.
- Maintain an open dialogue with your child about their internet use. Make it a normal daily conversation so that children aren’t tempted to hide information from you in case they get into trouble. Encourage them to talk to you about who they might be talking to, what sites or apps they are using and any issues they may be having.
- Create a family agreement to establish boundaries and expectations when using the internet. Have a plan in place for your child to deal with anything that they are not comfortable with, such as turning off the screen and telling a trusted adult.
- Set up filtering or parental controls to block unwanted content.
- Encourage your children to ‘think before you post’. Online actions can impact yourself and the lives of others. Private content can be publicly shared by others and may remain online forever.
- If your child is being bullied online, save all evidence and report the incident to the relevant service, e.g. the school, or the police, if the law has been broken.
- Familiarise yourself with the age ratings for games and apps which will indicate the suitability of the content. Online reviews from other parents may also be helpful.
- Encourage your children to protect their personal information and create strong passwords for every account.
These are also many of the things we teach the children at school while using technology.
We use SMART to remember how to keep safe.
https://www.childnet.com/blog/a-parents-guide-to-fortnite-battle-royale - Guide to safety when playing Fortnite
https://www.saferinternet.org.uk/safer-internet-day/safer-internet-day-2019/safer-internet-day-2019-top-tips-3-7s - Top E-Safety tips for Infant school age children
https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers/hot-topics/parental-controls - How to set up parental controls
https://www.internetmatters.org/?gclid=CMqz7pGMscoCFYFZ2wodFq8Dog – Age specific information on internet safety
https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/ - How to set up parental controls
https://www.net-aware.org.uk/ - Info on social media networks that children may use.
Safe Search Engines for Children –
Kiddle - https://www.kiddle.co/
Kid’s Search - https://www.kids-search.com/
Safe Search Kids - https://www.safesearchkids.com/