The Internet is an integral part of our lives and enables children to research school projects, stay in touch with their friends, and access entertainment from around the world. By working together, we can remain aware of potential dangers and take measures to ensure our young people get to enjoy the benefits of being online as securely as possible.
Discussions about online safety are a permanent part of our safeguarding work in school. We have dedicated sessions to focus on this, including assemblies with special guests from the local police and NSPCC, who explain what to do if children encounter anything that makes them feel uncomfortable. We also have fun panto-style performances to demonstrate some of the more subtle dangers we can encounter online, such as older people hiding behind fake identities. If you have any concerns at all please do speak with us.
We've added some useful guides to this page to share what you should know before allowing your children to have access to popular games or apps. If your children share your phone or tablet you may like to think about what permissions you give them, to ensure they’re not accidentally exposed to age-inappropriate content. Our children are often more tech-smart than we are, but if you keep your passcodes secret they shouldn't be able to download or change the settings for anything you wouldn't wish them to have access to.
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General Guidance and Useful Information
Downloading apps and streaming entertainment
There are some safer ways to allow younger children to access information and entertainment, such as opting for YouTube Kids instead of normal YouTube, and setting parental controls with pass codes on devices, gaming consoles and on streaming services like Netflix.
Watch out for auto-play on some services like YouTube, as you may sit your child down with a 'safe' video to watch and later discover something else has followed on which is not as age-appropriate.
Besides checking the age rating of a game, we recommend that you check the optional settings and features.
You'll find live chat can be a feature with some popular games like Animal Crossing, which is otherwise great for younger players.
Once live chat is a feature of a game you lose control over who or what your young players are exposed to, but you can often turn off unwanted features in the settings to ensure the game can be enjoyed safely.
There are a variety of excellent games suitable for primary-aged children featuring characters like Super Mario, Sonic, Pokemon, Skylanders, Spongebob, or Lego and sports games. However some older children might start to ask you for popular games like
GTA and Call of Duty, or they may have access to them at a friend's house.
It's important to understand why those games are not appropriate for players under 18 years of age.
Social Media / Chat / Messaging
Anywhere that children are able to text, voice chat, instant message or share videos and photos is open to some risk of exposure to inappropriate behaviour, language, grooming, coercion and potentially bullying. Age limits are usually set beyond primary school age for this reason. If your child has access to shared devices, or is asking to download social media apps because their friends have them, we strongly advise caution. Below are some of the apps your young person might ask you for, but new apps come along all the time and it can be hard to keep up. We also know of Skout, HotorNot and MeetMe which are all problematic.
We strongly advise you to read up about any social media app before agreeing to download it, and giving particular consideration to potential dangers like location sharing, and the risks of screen grabs.
PlayKids Talk is for children aged 4+.
Parents control all aspects of the child’s account such as contacts and profile.
Parents have access to the account on their own device to keep an eye on what's being shared in real-time
Spotlight is recommended for children aged 8+.
Accounts require a parent or carer to provide email authentication and approval. No friends can be added until a parent approves the account and shared videos or pictures can only be seen by the friends you have accepted.
Online Safety Awareness
National Online Safety provide an excellent series of resources which help make the internet a safer place for children. These provide parents, children and school staff with the knowledge they need to understand online dangers and how best to react should an incident arise.
The NSPCC also provide advice about the risks to children from online activities - from setting up parental controls to advice on issues such as ‘sexting’, online games and video apps
Keep it Real offer some advice videos to help you keep your children safe online, see below.
You may also like to refer to our Safeguarding page for more about how we keep children safe in school, and who to speak to about any safeguarding concerns.