Being safe online is a great responsibility of all of us. In today's society being aware of who you are communicating with online is of great importance in maintaining the safety of all of us.
Below are some links and information that we hope will help to keep staff and students up to date with the latest trends and ways to protect yourself online. You will see other pages on the menu to the left containing factsheets and useful websites.
In addition the school runs specific filtering software and Securus an industry standard monitoring application designed to protects students from cyberbullying, online grooming, explicit images, harmful websites and other threats.
Some good advice for parents (we do not recommend it's products, but the advice here is fairly impartial, however mostly for the american market)
Omegle offers a free video chat service that will connect you to a random stranger who can interact with you through text, chat and webcam. There is no safe way to use this website and users will likely encounter adult sexual content and risk encountering predatory behaviour. This factsheet will tell you more: Omegle Factsheet.pdf
Smartphone Emergency SOS Functions
You might not know it – even if you have one – but most new smartphones include an array of emergency functions that could prove invaluable to you in a crisis. From sending notifications to specified contacts to connecting you rapidly with the emergency services, it’s no exaggeration to say that your phone could potentially save your life – or help you save someone else’s – in a matter of seconds. These guides below help you set up your phone in case - please make sure everyone in your family knows what to do with their phone:
Netflix Parental controls
The NSPCC and O2 have joined forces to produce Netaware for advice on keeping children safe online. Here is a link to their latst guide on parental controls for Netflix : https://www.net-aware.org.uk/networks/netflix/
You tube supervised experience
The main YouTube service is
supposedly for users 13+ and yet YouTube Kids is for very young children, which
leaves a pretty big age gap in the middle. Called a 'supervised experience', YouTube state these new features are
available for families with children under 13, which is a little confusing:
Explore - videos suitable for children 9+
Explore more - suitable for children 13+
Most of YouTube - almost everything on YouTube except videos marked as 18+ (this is the current Restricted Mode on YouTube).
You can read a little more about the supervised experience HERE and a guide for parents is HERE
Tik Tok Family safety toolkit
The DQ Institute is an American-based charity and, along with
TikTok, have created a comprehensive TikTok Family Safety Toolkit which I'm
sure many parents would find really helpful. It's quite a large guide (26
pages) and throughout there are links to digital citizenship tips and more
You can download the guide (PDF) HERE
For Parents - 8 tips for online safety during lockdown
It's important we keep those conversations going so the NSPCC (NetAware) has put together an article that is up to date with present times - read it here: https://www.net-aware.org.uk/news/8-tips-for-keeping-your-kids-safe-online-during-lockdown/
TikTok - Silhouette Challenge (aka Red Filter, or Thirst Trap)
This one has been
around for a while but there seems to be a growth in online reporting so we're sharing just to keep at the back of your mind in case you hear your child mentioning it.
The challenge is simple - take a photo of yourself as a silhouette and apply a red filter. Thirst Trap is where videos of a normally clad person then uses a red filter as they appear more scantily clad and provocative. The concern is that because you are appearing as a silhouette, there may be instances where children and/or young people are disinhibited to the extent that they remove clothing to show off their figure. There are dozens of YouTube videos showing people how to remove the red filter and have a more 'clear' view of the silhouette. In other words by raising the shadow areas in order to reveal the body rather than a silhouette.
Inappropriate Content Online Advice for Parents FRom Lincoln County Council
A useful video from LCC on online safety for parents can be found here:
Over the last 12 months, we have seen an increase in the number of schools reporting that students, while at home, have accessed content which is not always appropriate, some of which has been quite scary or upsetting. While there is no perfect way to eliminate this risk, we feel that there are things parents and carers can do to support their children online, reduce the risk or manage it after the fact. Here are some of the practical steps parents and carers can follow:
- Contact their Internet Service Provider (ISP): Companies that provide broadband such as BT, Sky and Virgin, offer free protection for parents and carers. They can filter your internet connection directly, without having to install anything. Guide on how to use this can be found here: https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/broadband-mobile/
- YouTube is a fantastic resource, especially when homeschooling, but not all the content is appropriate for children and not all YouTube channels are made for young audiences. YouTube has an app just for children – YouTube Kids – but many people don't realise that the main YouTube app has a restricted mode. Check out more about how it works here: https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/entertainment-search-engines/youtube-app/
- Games consoles have features that can limit what games they can play based on the age ratings and can even turn off certain features to allow gaming to be a little safer. To learn more about these features visit https://www.internetmatters.org/parental-controls/gaming-consoles/
- Games are also rated based on the content, not how difficult they are. 18 rated games can have very graphic violence, adult language and themes, sexual content and horror elements. Learn a bit more about appropriate games by visiting https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/articles/gaming-whats-appropriate-for-your-child/ or visit this site for more about game ratings https://parentzone.org.uk/article/pegi-games-ratings-explained
Over the school closures and holidays, many children will use playing online games as a way to keep up with their friends. CEOP have produced a very short but helpful video with some tips for parents and carers about in game chat. Find it here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WgSnbBRVMPs&feature=emb_logo
12 Online tips for children with new devices:
Government Advice for Keeping Children Safe Online at Home:
SafeToNet app - free for 1 million UK families:
SafeToNet is a charitable foundation who do a huge amount of work around online safeguarding. They have developed an app which they are making free to 1 million families in the UK for life. To find out more, read the article HERE and learn a little more about how the app works HERE
How to set up a playstation 5 for your family:
'Ask about Games' has a good guide to setting up a PlayStation 5 with parental controls and limits. Take a look here if you're planning to get one for Christmas! Set-Up PlayStation 5 For Your Family (askaboutgames.com)
And here's a timely guide from the great site National Online Safety: What parents and carers need to know about Playstation5.pdf
National ONline safety app
This is a really useful site that is run for free to give advice on a huge range of topics, and they are really quick to respond to new trends as well - see the list that is updated every week at the end of this page). They have now released an app packed with hundreds of these useful guides so it's easier and quicker for you to stay up to date with the latest trends and hazards. There's also a free online safety course for parents. Download this app from the App Store or Google Play, and here's a guide to it: 10 ways to get the most out of our app.pdf
TikTok has increased parental controls. Read more about them here: https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-gb/supporting-youth-and-families-on-tiktok-uk. They have also set all accounts that are created with ages 13-15 to private automatically; as we know, many children will be untruthful about their age in order to sign up with apps such as TikTok - read more about it from TikTok here: https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/strengthening-privacy-and-safety-for-youth
The Inclusive Digital Safety Hub is a collaboration between Internet Matters and South West Grid for Learning to empower parents, carers, and professionals with tailored advice and insight to make meaningful interventions in the lives of children and young people most likely to experience online risks. It’s the first of its kind. Please take a look here:
Trends on Social Media
There is lots of peer pressure to follow trends on social media, but some can be particularity worrying and harmful. The latest one that we have received warnings about is a trend on TikTok called the Benadryl Challenge which encourages users to overdose on antihistamines in order to hallucinate. A 15 year old girl from Oklahoma has died from attempting this challenge and the trend is on its way to the UK. Please be aware of these trends and talk to your children about how they view things on social media. Here's a guide from National Online Safety:
There is also some advice and suggestions of people who can help from Netaware (a joint operation between NSPCC and O2) called 'Back to school - How do I keep my kids safe online' here: https://www.net-aware.org.uk/news/back-to-school/
Fake News and misinformation
Another excellent guide to how to help your child understand fake news and misinformation that is becoming ever more prevalent:
Playstation releases a Xbox Family App
Microsoft have recently released some new management features that parents can use. Available for iOS and Android, it is a free download and it has some great features, e.g.
- Manage screen time limits (including grant more time).
- Accept or decline friend requests.
- Set content filters
- Weekly use reports
Find out more here: https://news.xbox.com/en-us/2020/09/24/xbox-family-settings-app-launch/
What you need to know about webcams:
From National Online Safety (more guides below) a timely reminder about the use of webcams:-
Staying safe online whilst working at home - a guide for parents:
Thinkuknow - the support side of CEOP, part of the UK National Crime Agency, have sent out this useful guide to keeping your child safe whilst online:-
From Lincolnshire Safeguarding Partnership:
A guide on what to do if someone is being abusive online
From online gaming to online gambling:
Online gaming is nothing new and it almost seems like every game has a monetary aspect with a facility to link credit and debit cards or spend money in-game. But should parents be worried? Can children spend recklessly? And what behavioural changes might parents see in their child linked to an addiction? Created by gambling charity, GamFam, this guide aims to give parents a starting point to help look out for signs around online gaming addiction - click here to download it.
Buying new devices (and not just for Christmas)? Here's some excellent advice from NSPCC on how to set it up safely:
Common Sense Media - This is a site where you can learn more about the games or apps your children are using, Common Sense Media covers thousands, which includes advice and reviews from other parents. Reviews include movies and books as well, and have suggestions for age groups and areas such as 'Best non-violent games for X-Box One'. Click here: Common Sense Media
Childnet have updated their parent and carer toolkit that will help parents have conversations about online safety. Their booklet 'Let's talk about life online' includes ten key messages that should be shared with children:
1. "You can always come to me if you need help." 2. "What would you do if this happened…?" 3. "Remember that not everyone is who they say they are online." 4. "Keep your personal information safe, and other people’s too." 5. "Be respectful to others online." 6. "Think before you post." 7. "Remember to ask if it’s okay." 8. "Remember not everything is true online." 9. "The things other people post online might not always show what their life is really like." 10. "Recognise how going online makes you feel and take a break when you need to."
The Parent and Carer
Toolkit can be found here: https://www.childnet.com/parents-and-carers/parent-and-carer-toolkit
Sadfishing: This is a relatively new term that has gained traction and is seen as a growing trend on social media. The danger is that real problems can be overlooked for individuals who are just attention seeking. So, should parents be worried? Why might children get involved in sadfishing? And what could it lead to? Find out with this new guide from National Online Safety.
Fortnite did close it's game down for a short period whilst it prepared to release the 'next chapter' Fortnite 2. Here's a guide for parents and carers to this new version from National Online Safety: What parents and carers need to know about Fortnite 2
Steam: Chances are you may not have heard of Steam. In very simple terms, it’s an online marketplace where individuals can buy, download, stream and play PC games. There’s an extensive library of games available but it also has a built-in chat function and means you have to provide personal information when signing up. Click here to download a guide to potential safety concerns.
During holidays, and time at home, many children turn to online gaming and social media. Here are some links to some advice from CEOP:
Many children will be spending time gaming online over the holidays. This article explores the different elements of gaming with a particular focus on how it can be used by offenders, but focusing on what parents can do to support their child while gaming.
Help them to stay safe on gaming platforms over the holidays (and beyond) with our new article for teens. It looks at:
- The manipulative tactics an offender may use to groom or exploit a young gamer
- Five simple steps to take to stay safe when gaming
- Blocking and reporting in games
Many children enjoy live streaming as it can be used to showcase talent, develop communication skills and create identity. Our article helps parents to understand why children love it, what the risks can be, and how they can help their child stay safe if they are live streaming.
Parental controls are a great tool for helping to protect children but should not replace open and honest conversations with children about their life online. Share these tips on how to use parental controls effectively.
And whilst many are going away, there's some advice here:
Lots of parents love sharing photos of their children with friends and family, particularly when they are on holiday or starting the new school year. A recent report found that 42% of young people reported that their parents had done this without asking their permission. Our article helps parents to protect their child while staying social.
6. Many thanks to our parents, who keep me informed of any other advice they have found helpful or been involved in the development of. Thanks to K Ferreira, for sharing this resource with us which has been released in August 2019:
It has lots of advice on areas such as streaming content, Smart TVs and online predators as well as other areas.
Another guide for parents with tips on what to look for and how to talk to your child about various issues can be found here: https://www.lifecake.com/family-internet-safety-privacy/
Also a wealth of information can be found here: https://techiepassion.com/kids-esafety/
(Please note William Farr is not affiliated with Lifecake, VPNMentor or Techiepassion in any way and does not recommend their products other than as resources available online).
Discord - With over 14 million daily users, Discord is one of the most popular communication tools for gamers. It allows you to create or join what are known as ‘servers’, where different users can talk in groups via text message or voice call. There is also the option to send direct messages and make video calls. Discord-Guide-May-2019.pdf
ChallengeS on WhatsApp, tiktok, You Tube and online games such as Fortnite:
The BBC have released lots of advice on areas like this and how to deal with online abuse etc; as part of their 'Own It' series which can be accessed by clicking here.
Anonymous Messaging Apps - "A variety of websites and apps that allow users to anonymously submit questions, comments and have conversations with other users, without knowing their identity" - the chances of these being used for bullying is high, so Net Aware have given some tips and guidance for Parents on how to watch for and guard against these type of apps. Their report can be found by clicking here.
factsheets about specific issues can be found on this page:
Many others can be found at this excellent site https://nationalonlinesafety.com/resources/wake-up-wednesday/:
Gaming Disorder - added to World Health Organisation classification of diseases
Please note this is a 'disorder', not an addiction. WHO say "Gaming disorder is characterised by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour…" which includes:
- "impaired control over gaming"
- "increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities"
- "continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences."
There is an article on the internetmatters.org website that explains 'What you need to know about WHO gaming disorder'.
You can read the article here: https://www.internetmatters.org/hub/guidance/what-you-need-to-know-about-who-gaming-disorder/