This is the final part of 3 online safety guest posts from Matt Lovegrove, an independent esafety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher
- Part 1 – Is online safety a problem for the techies, the teachers, or the parents?
- Part 2 – Six tried and tested resources to make teaching online safety fun and engaging
If you want to help your pupils become safe and responsible users of the Internet, you’ll need to work in tandem with parents.
Learning about online safety in school is great, but children are most likely to need support when using the Internet at home. It’s in living rooms and bedrooms where children will access the apps they can’t at school and are most likely to be sharing and communicating online.
Parents need support
Parents need the skills and understanding to be able to confidently guide their children through the exciting world of online life.
The problem is, parents often feel that their children know more about being online than they do, and some parents report having no idea what their children are getting up to on the Internet.
But we can’t blame them; children are becoming digitally literate from an early age now and it’s hard to keep up with the latest games and social networks.
Brush up on your knowledge first
The online world changes quickly, so before you address parents, ensure your knowledge is top notch!
Ask your pupils what apps and websites they are using and start to learn about them; pupils will generally be keen to share this information with you. If you’re unfamiliar with apps and services that pupils mention, use NSPCC Net-aware to find out about them.
- Read Engage eSafety’s advice and tips articles
- Sit back and watch BrainPOP’s series of online safety videos
- Register as a Thinkuknow teacher to gain access to the latest resources and information
- Spend time reading articles on Thinkuknow parents
- Explore Parent Info – this website contains many useful articles related to online safety
- Complete the NSPCC’s Keeping children safe online course. This 3-hour safeguarding course costs only £30 and provides an excellent introduction to online safety
- Ask your school’s computing leader to run a staff training session. Childnet International provide free staff INSET resources
Getting parents on board
Getting parents on board with online safety doesn’t have to be hard! Start by asking parents about what they’d like advice about. They may feel out of depth and may appreciate you reaching out to them.
Run an online safety presentation or workshop evening for parents
Try running a morning or after-school session with parents to encourage them to take a more active role in helping their children become safer Internet users:
- Share what you know about the apps and websites that children use and your school rules about using the Internet
- You may have a bigger parent turn out if you offer childcare during after-school sessions; some schools host a film night for children during their sessions to save parents having to pay for babysitters
- Keep the sessions you run short, friendly and entertaining
- Use a variety of resources, such as videos and worksheets, to keep interest high
Avoid scaremongering and be sensitive; online safety shouldn’t be too scary and you should be aware that if you’re going to talk about grooming and abuse, some parents may find this hard to listen to.
Focus on giving parents the skills to help their children use Internet services properly; spending time telling parents that their children shouldn’t be using services isn’t always effective and doesn’t solve the overall problem.
Bolt an online safety event on to another event
If parents’ evening is coming up, why not run an online safety session a number of times during the evening and ask parents to arrive early to attend it? If parents are already in school, engage them there!
Feature online safety regularly
Add an online safety tip section to your school’s newsletter; keep it simple, quick and friendly. A weekly reminder will help drip-feed advice to parents.
Send home parents’ guide
Why not send home guides or publish blog posts about Internet safety. Use social media to reach as many parents as possible.
Finally, use homework to encourage debate at home
Have children complete an Internet safety project as a homework project; this may get them talking about it at home.
Matt Lovegrove is an independent eSafety trainer, speaker, and practicing teacher. If you need training or support for your school, please get in touch with Engage eSafety.