Being a blogger I obviously spend A LOT of time online and talking to people via social networks so it stands to reason that my children show an interest in what I do. They have been attending blogging events since before they could talk so they have a certain amount of understanding about what it is that Mummy does, they refer to me as ‘a blogger’ and see me working at my laptop.
The Beans have been ‘online’ themselves in varying degrees over the past couple of years and each have their own tablet PC but before they were handed over I took every step possible to make sure that they were as safe and secure as possible . . . or so I thought? Then one day whilst Little Bean was doing research for her Africa project she ended up watching a video on YouTube of Lions mating but the video had been doctored into something much worse. Thankfully, I stay close when the Beans are online and was able to grab the tablet from her before she could see too much. It certainly raised a few questions from Little Bean, as well as a few doubts into my mind just how secure ‘Parental Controls’ really are.
Over the Easter break, the Beans, my Mum and I attended a very special Internet Safety workshop which had been set up by BT and Unicef. To date, BT and Unicef have delivered 300 Internet Safety Workshops in schools reaching over 7,000 children, parents and teachers nationwide. But they are not stopping there!! The Internet Safety Workshop is part of their three year partnership, ‘The Right Click: Internet Safety Matters’ and has been designed to help children, their families and teachers to use the internet safely. You can download this useful information pack here on how to keep safe online.
During the workshop we attended we were asked questions about what services and apps the children use online, I was shocked at just how many I had never even heard of. Children throughout the audience were shouting out various different websites and social apps where they can communicate with others. As a person who spends so much time ‘online’ themselves, I was shocked that I knew so little about what was out there and accessible for my children. We were shown a very thought provoking video from CEOP (Child Education and Online Protection Centre).
The boys didn’t really watch the video at the time because they were too interested in their sweets, popcorn and the swivel table on their chairs but I did ask Little Bean to watch it because she is of the age where she is online a little more. She most certainly won’t be having any online social profiles for a while yet but I want her to be prepared for when she does and to realise that people aren’t always who they say they are.
After watching the video above, we completed a questionnaire about what we would do if we were to have an online profile so I worked through this with Little Bean and I’m pleased to say that she made the right choices and was able to explain why. The main points she picked up on were;
- A profile picture can give off a very different appearance to who you really are.
- An innocent status update can alert others as to your whereabouts or the fact that your house is empty.
- Profiles need to be completely private by only allowing friends who you have accepted to see it. By choosing Friends of Friends who open yourself up to just about anyone as your friends might not be as vigilant about who they accept as you are.
So far, 7,378 children, parents and teachers have taken part in the sessions at Unicef UK’s Rights Respecting Schools, which put the UN Convention on the Right of the Child (UNCRC) at the heart of their policies and practice. As a result, nine in ten (90 per cent) parents say they will talk to their child more about online safety.
The programme aims to empower children to become confident digital citizens – enabling them to safely enjoy the benefits of the internet, in an online world that continues to rapidly evolve.
It also works to equip teachers and parents with the skills needed to help children to use the internet safely. They are shown the value of parental controls and the ease with which they can be set up and used, and are encouraged to discuss online safety openly with children.
The workshops are also valued by children, with 83 per cent saying they found them helpful and almost nine in ten (88 per cent) saying they would now tell an adult they trusted if something upset them online.
Pete Oliver, commercial and marketing director, BT Consumer, says:
The internet is an amazing place, especially for children, not only at school but also when continuing their learning at home. But online safety can often be a grey area for parents, teachers and children and in some instances it can result in parents being unsure how to best help their children to use the internet positively. The workshops are about enabling them to be digitally savvy, so that they can get the most out of the internet, while making smart choices so that potential dangers are managed.”
Catherine Cottrell, Unicef UK Deputy Executive Director, says:
The workshops have been a fantastic success. This partnership has been set up using what we believe is the best possible approach to online safety – involving parents, teachers and children and we are thrilled that 300 workshops are being delivered in Unicef UK Rights Respecting Schools.”
As a parent, I don’t want to deny my children the access to the greater online world, it is an ocean of possibilities and most definitely the way of the future BUT I do want to know that they are safe. We see too often in the news about children who have been groomed by people they have met online, who have run away with them or of children who have been coaxed into harming themselves by online bullies. We need to educate our children so that they fully understand the perils of being online so they can use it safely and report matters which they feel are not in their best interests. We need to help them to me The Right Click.
After the seriousness of our morning we were invited to the top of the BT Tower, a landmark which is not open to the public, for a yummy lunch, to catch up with friends and to see the glorious sights of London from 158m up. We even received a Certificate each to say that we had been to the top of the Tower.