The digital environment offers a wealth of education, entertainment and social opportunity. Many of our pupils with Autism and additional needs report feeling empowered by accessing online communities and content. However we also recognise the serious risks unmonitored access to social networks, messaging, and online content can bring for our vulnerable pupil population.
As part of Brookfields safeguarding responsibilities we take the topic of digital safety extremely seriously.
We look to mitigate the risks of harm to children through:
- Vigilance and reporting
- Training for parents, carers and staff
- PSHE lessons for all with a strong emphasis on social safety
- Discreet digital safety education for relevant pupils
- A managed online environment within school (Filtering and flagging tools)
Below is some helpful guidance for parents and carers developed by our Digital Safety Lead Bruce Taylor.
Supporting Children and Young People Online
- Don’t overreact – but be more aware
- Provide routine and structure
- Consider Contact, Content and Conduct and Commercialism
- Time spent online, gaming and on social media increased during 'lockdown' for everyone
- Be more vigilant to changes in behaviour, responses to stuff online and to messages and communications
- An inevitable increase in scams, phishing attempts and “malicious” conduct
- Who are they talking to? They should NOT be unknown contacts
- How are they doing this? By text, audio or video
- Does the app, platform or device have privacy settings to protect identity or location that you can adjust?
- Are they using a nickname or gaming “tag” to protect their identity?
- What is the content of the application?
- Is it age restricted and why? This could be due to violent, sexual or drug related content – or other adult themes
- Check the game yourself or play together with your child
- Use your judgement to consider whether the content is appropriate to your child even though, “on paper”, they may be “old enough”
- How does your child or young person behave on this app or game?
- Is the app the most important thing or is it the friends or contacts they can interact with?
- Try NOT to consider that an app or game can be GOOD or BAD but that the user’s behaviour is the important factor
- Be aware that offenders focus their behaviour on the same apps and platforms that young people inhabit
- Do you or your child know how to protect themselves (or others) and report misconduct?
Commercialisation - £££
- Be aware that many apps have in-app purchasing – allowing users to upgrade or buy additional features. These should be turned off.
- Many apps collect data on users to develop revenue streams. What information are users required to give? Use your judgement to limit this.
- Ensure credit/debit card details are not stored on devices and accessible for gameplay or app store purchases without your approval
Further advice and support
A link that explains the upsides and potential problems of online gaming
A site that provides independent reviews aimed at parents and carers of apps and games for young people
ThinkUKnow is the educational resource arm of the nationwide Child Exploitation and Online Protection organisation and has a wide range of resources
A branch of the National Crime Agency that works to keep young people safe online
To be used only in cases where an offence has, or is likely, to occur