For our pupils to be online and explore a world of opportunities and information is invaluable. The benefits of being online range from learning and creativity, to social connection with friends and family far and wide and the ability to learn from mistakes and be able to self-regulate. However, being online places both children and adults at risk of harm, so whilst we encourage our pupils to explore the cyber world, we also wish to keep them safe.
Research conducted at the academy shows that our pupils are at risk of harm and feeling threatened from contact with people both known and unknown to them. Our pupils were particularly concerned about online grooming and some discussed actual experiences of this. The research demonstrated that our pupils worry about arguments and conflicts they have on social media and in turn, this distracts them from sleep, from the moment and from their learning. Our pupils spoke about how their self-esteem was lowered because of comments made on social media. They also spoke of how younger children tried to act older by posting sexualised pictures of themselves on Instagram and Snapchat. Moreover, pupils spoke about the ease of accessing sexual content online and they raised sexting as a concern among their peers.
Our pupils explained about the fear of missing out (FOMO) and how they were often distracted from sleep and learning due to social media and online gaming. They said that they often received threatening chain mails late at night, which caused them to worry. Additionally, they spoke about getting into an argument with friends and not being able to sleep and sometimes they played games on their phones or tablets into the early hours of the morning. In summary, our pupils are at risk physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially.
So whilst we do not want our pupils to miss out on a world of online opportunities, we do want them to be safe whilst they explore this cyber world. At the academy, we have assemblies about online risks each term, these are accompanied by frequent form activities that include real-life stories. These risks are explored further in Cultural Studies, ICT, Media, Health and Social Care and English.
If you are worried about an online situation with your child or another pupil at EPA, please contact the relevant Head of Year for advice. Additionally, please contact the local police on 101 for support.
Here are links to useful websites for parents and carers. You will also find attached to this page our Safer Internet Day 2021 presentation for parents/carers and two further presentations that were used in assemblies given in Autumn 2020, by our School's Police Officer PC Mark Edwards.
You might want to consider using parental controls on your child's phone. Family Sharing is recommended for IPhone and Family Link is for Android phones. Here are some YouTube tutorials to support this.
It can sometimes feel as though your child is one step ahead when it comes to monitoring their online world, here are some concerns that you may or may not be aware of.
- Children can often access a neighbours wi-fi when parents/ carers turn theirs off.
- Children often have devices that their parents/ carers are unaware of.
- Children often have more than one Instagram account (or any other social media they use).
- Children, whilst aware of the grooming process, are easily flattered and unaware that they are being groomed (both online and in the real world).
- Children talk to each other in codes.
Here are some links to helpful websites.
The online world is exciting and full of information and opportunities, additionally, it is full of risks and threats to your safety. In order to help you here are 10 tips.
- If you have any concerns about anything you have encountered online tell a parent/ carer, member of staff or police officer.
- If you are out and about and you feel threatened due to something online (or something in the real world) call 101 to discuss the matter with your local police, they are there to help you and you will find them supportive.
- Turn all devices off at night and get a good sleep - this is important for your physical and mental health.
- Remember there is no tone to conversations online and many comments can be taken the wrong way, if you feel stressed, stop and turn off the phone. Tell an adult if you feel you need support.
- Do not get involved in anything to do with 'sexting' and 'nudes', a moment of what seems like fun can cause you a lot of upset and stress. Please tell an adult if you have sent a 'nude' so that you can be supported.
- Do not ask for a 'nude' as you are asking for an indecent image of a child and this is a crime.
- If someone sends you a 'nude' delete it straight away. If you edit it, you have then created an indecent image of a child. If you send it to someone else, you are then spreading an indecent image of a child, these are crimes.
- Do not make offensive comments to people (online or in the real world), one comment can cause someone a great deal of distress and lead to mental health issues in the future.
- Do not make racist or homophobic remarks, not only are these unacceptable, they may come back to haunt you in the future.
- Remember - what you do online, stays online, possibly forever. So ensure your digital footprint is positive and helpful, not negative and abusive.