Category Archives: cybersafety

Want to Hangout?

With isolation from unnecessary social interactions a pivotal step in our behaviour at the moment, we want to ensure that there are ways that friends can safely stay in touch.

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Google Hangouts is part of the Google Suite applications we have access to, and I have turned it on for members of class 3 to see if it a welcome method for communication.   I will discuss it in a little way down this post….

One aspect of my job that has been forefront in my mind over the last few days of planning, is that of cybersafety.  As there will be an increased reliance on technology, it is imperative that there is a continuation of keeping children safe.  As this is now almost entirely at home, there are some steps you can take to ensure this is maintained:

  • talk to your children about their use of technology: get to know the apps they use, why they use them and learn about the positive aspects of each (there are some great TikToks out there!)
  • discuss privacy settings and go through them together to see what are the most appropriate ones to turn and why
  • make sure that any video chats are done in a public room
  • if they do have access to text chatting, remind them about being kind.  We have the rule of, “if you wouldn’t say it in front of a grandparent, then don’t say it online,” as  a way of quickly self-determining if something is appropriate.

We have plenty of resources/links available in our E-safety section, could be an ideal time to go through them or seek out further guidance on such matters.  It can a very difficult part of the parent/child relationship to discuss, and maybe control access to, specific technologies, but when done together it can foster trust and responsibility.

Right then – Google Hangouts…

The app uses their school accounts to chat through the Google servers, and this has some benefits:

  • it is integrated into our existing infrastructure, so no additional sign-ups are needed
  • it is securely ringfenced, it can only be used to chat to other Grindleford children for who the service has been activated – NO EXTERNAL CHATS CAN OCCUR IN OR OUT
  • it is fully logged

It can be reached via any browser, in the same way the Classroom app can, using this URL:

https://hangouts.google.com/

And there are dedicated apps in the relevant app stores for iOS and Android if your children use such devices.

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You can then enter the name of a friend to start a connection, or create groups of commonly-used friends to have a group chat.

It is ideal for discussing the associated work being set (I would say that!) or indeed probably a lot more for social time.

We did a class test of Hangout video chat on Friday, but I am hesitant to deploy such technology due to safety concerns at this moment in time: I see this text-based chat app as being an important factor in determining whether to turn that on in the future.

There are a myriad of ways in which children will be communicating during this period, this one offers a safe, secure and controlled option.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions over the app.

Are you influenced?

Well, we all are, but things have changed in recent years, particularly for children.

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Now being an influencer is a full-time profession that can earn you millions and allow you to reach countless followers all over the world.  As lines between personal opinions and corporate strategies can be blurred, understanding this concept of influencers is a new one for many parents in relation to how they could impact on their children’s development and wellbeing.

The awesome people at National Online Safety have a great guide that is well worth a look at for the uninitiated (that includes me).  Click on the image above to download a PDF version.

TikTok – find time to read this

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The popularity of TikTok has rocketed over the past months, and so those wonderful people at National Online Safety have produced a fantastic guide to TikTok for parents.

It is well worth a read if your child uses the app, or has been asking about it.  Click the image below to download a PDF version.

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A Smart Move?

An inevitable purchase as children get older seems to be a smartphone, and Christmas is a common time when they are bought.  As they move onto secondary education, staying in touch is an important consideration, but with this benefit there is the risk of potential pitfalls regarding personal safety and wellbeing.

There has been a fantastic guide published today by National Online Safety that I hope may of some use for anyone considering buying such a device for a young person that could start some great discussions.  Click on the image below for a PDF version.

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Fortnite 2

Fortnite 2 seems to be making headline news these days – it is that popular I guess!  Even though it is aimed at children 12 and above, there are many in the country below this age who play, and there are risks to wellbeing and safety.

To help with this, we can recommend this terrific and useful guide for parents that covers the main questions they may have.

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Live Streaming – a short guide for parents

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As part of our ongoing commitment to raising the profile of staying safe online, I thought I’d share this short guide with you.  Live Streaming is an ever-increasing part of life on the web for young people, either as viewers of such streams, or by sharing their own activities with a wide audience.  Although very prevalent in gaming circles, live streaming is covering an ever-increasing range of topics and interests.

As age-restrictions are not always enforced by sites, or even ignored by many young people and there parents, understanding potential risks is never a bad thing.  This guide from the awesome thinkuknow team is a great introduction to the subject.

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#SaferInternetDay2019

Tuesday was Safer Internet Day 2019, and every class took part in activities aimed at raising the awareness of consent.

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Class 1 talked about how to ask a trusted adult if they ever came across anything when playing on a tablet or computer that asked them a question they were unsure of, and how to ask permission before they go to certain sites and apps.  They created some wonderful posters in the session, here are a couple:

From the questionnaires that KS2 completed, it was evident that the overwhelming number of children enjoyed going online for a wide range of purposes from chilling with Netflix to playing games with friends.

We looked at the concept of personal information and how if it belongs to you, you should have the control to decide what happens to it.  Many didn’t realise that pictures are a form of personal information, and posting them online without permission can lead to problems.  It was well-understood that it is important and polite to ask for consent from people if we want to share pictures of them and respect their wishes.

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We also looked at how companies and other organisations on the internet have to ask for your consent if they wish to use your personal information, and what they may use it for.

In all situations, we explored the important message that it is OK to say NO.  It is YOUR information, YOU own it, it is up to YOU what happens to it.

Some children made some pledges at the end of the day related to consent:

It was also pleasing to see from the questionnaire responses that many pupils ask for permission before they use technology at home, and if they want to get a new game or app.  Staying safe online and respecting others in the online world are becoming ever-important and it is reassuring to know that so many parents are sharing their children’s journeys and development in the digital age.

A lot can change in 15 years

Commonsense.org is one of many important organisations that aim to ensure that children have every opportunity possible to grow up in a safer world.  Although there is a focus in the US due to their origins, there is a wealth of information and advice for parents worldwide.  With posts on topics from Fortnite to online harassment, their blog is a terrific way to keep up to date with such issues.

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As part of their 15th anniversary, they have created a superb timeline that covers important developments in technology in that time, and it includes some fascinating statistics.  The one that caught my eye was that in 2014, the number of mobile devices worldwide surpassed the human population!  It is well worth a look.

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Our NSPCC Buddies

It was great to see our friends from the NSPCC in school again today; they came to deliver some very important messages about staying safe and knowing who to turn to if they are ever worried.

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All classes recieved age-appropriate presentations, this included an amazing animation for KS2!

There was clear themes that every child has the right to a happy childhood, and we discussed lots of trusted adults who are there to listen if they ever need an ear to share their worries.

The children interacted really well, and they had lots of great suggestions.

If you want to know more about any aspect of helping to keep children safe, visit the NSPCC website as they maintain very up-to-date information, including some great pages on e-safety.

Cybersafety: VPN?

VPN is an acronym that is being used more and more in conversations about technology.  Although commonly used to access work networks over the internet for years now, they are being used in many situations by younger people, and it could be worth a little read on what they are and how they are used.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network and they can be used to hide net traffic and what sites and services are accessed, even if parental controls have been put in place.

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There is only a very tiny chance that any primary-aged children are using such a service (mostly due to the cost and payment requirements – however, there are free ones out there), but I know that such things are discussed and used in teenage years by individuals, sometimes for reasons that are concerning.

The latest article from ParentInfo gives a very brief introduction to VPNs and worth a read to get up to date.

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