Important ICT Information for Parents

Dear Parents

Following some internet safety training I felt it was important to send some information to all parents concerning safe use of the internet.

We have become aware that growing numbers of our pupils are signing up for Facebook accounts. In reality, this is outside the guidelines for the site as members should be 13+. However, we are aware that many have been set up with parental approval and guidance.

Earlier this year Facebook changed their security settings which meant that accepting the basic set up means that all the information on your pages becomes publicly available. It is absolutely vital that you are fully aware of the information your child is posting for their safety and your security. Your child could unwittingly identify where you live and tell everyone about that 'wonderful holiday you are planning for the first two weeks in August'. In theory you could come home to a bit of a shock! I think we have all seen where children have sent messages via Facebook about their birthday party which then draws people for miles to your house.

Based on our training it would appear that with a few simple security settings we can make our pages much more secure, not just from the mishaps which could occur with the publishing of too much information but to also protect our children from anyone using the internet to groom children. This is a very small threat but one which we do need to be wary of. If your child is using Facebook show them the 'report it' button which they should use if anything makes them feel uncomfortable.

I have attached two links to information which allows you to understand the security settings on Facebook. They also help you to make simple changes to settings to ensure your children are safe. I would like to advise that the photograph content of pages should be carefully reviewed as there are many cases where photographs and comments from the past have jeopardised university and job interviews.

Talking with your children is vital. Make sure that they understand that what they write on line remains there and can be very hurtful to others. They need to think about whether they would say the comments to the person if they were face to face. If they would not then it is not appropriate to say them on line.

We are going to put together some more age appropriate e-safety work to cover in school.

Unfortunately, due to the sensitive nature of some of the problems which can arise from memberships and friendships on Facebook, I have advised staff at school not to accept friendship requests from parents and pupils and to remove any friendships already accepted. I understand that this may seem a very hard route to take but there have been quite unpleasant occurrences arising from situations of this nature.

The internet provides us with a rich learning environment and technology will continue to take us forward at an alarming rate. It is our role to prepare children for the future in this exciting technological age so they are able to function effectively and safely as they grow up in a world which is so different to the one we may have grown up in.

Please could I ask you all to review your safety and security settings on your home computers? Most internet providers will be happy to help you get this right for the age of children in the house. Please talk with your children about the importance of keeping passwords secret from friends and others outside the home. My final piece of advice is to try to ensure that internet linked computers are in a busy part of the home where you can keep an eye on what your children are doing. In addition to this ask your children what they are doing - our children can be very effective teachers.

This letter is not sent out with the intention of scaring people but more to inform them of what they can do to help keep children safe online.

Links to information are below.

Links to help you with security settings on Facebook (click on the icon for a short video)

Click here for more e-safety tips
Click here for Children and ICT document

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