News

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day is an initiative of the eSafety Commissioner and will be held on February 9th this year. This day is designed to highlight the need for children and young adults to have adults walk beside them as they learn to navigate the online world.

Our students are exposed to technology and a digital/online world that is full of wonder and the unknown. How do we ensure that they are equipped with the right tools to dive confidently into using and interacting with the internet?

There have been lots of articles and many online publications produced, however an excellent place to start is through www.esafety.gov.au. Here you can access an excellent collection of articles, interactive games and publications that will assist you in having valuable conversations with your children. 

On Safer Internet Day the world comes together with a shared vision of making online experiences better for everyone. At SCAS students in Year 3-6 will undertake 1-hour workshops with Kirra Pendergast. 

Kirra speaks on the topic of Cyber Safety and her own experience with serious cyberbullying and we are confident that her presentation will have the students reflecting on their online activities through a new lens. 

Years 3-6 students ESafety presentation. Tuesday 9th February

We are additionally looking at connecting SCAS parents with Kirra via an online platform later in the semester. This will provide an opportunity to ask questions and look at topics specific to different age groups. Keep an eye out for notifications of this event. 

During the day students will be shown the SCAS Technology and Social Media/Networking policies on explain.scas. Students will then agree to the contents of these to assist them when using technology.

5 Principles to stay safe online

Brett Lee of Internet Safe Education has shared his 5 Principles to stay safe online:

Safeguard 1: Set Rules and Boundaries

These are not optional. Parents and children have rules and boundaries in every area of their lives. Rules don’t stop them having fun; they protect them from themselves and others. Parents can be confident they are making a difference by putting rules in place. Rules can be changed if it is found they don’t suit. As children grow, parents should not be afraid to modify a rule, taking care not to move outside their values, beliefs, morals and ethics. Rules and boundaries provide security, letting children know where they stand.

The rules must be enforced or there is no point having them. They will not be taken as seriously if they can be continually broken unchallenged. On the other hand, it is not weakness to allow a couple more minutes playing a game. General rules might include:

  • Time limits and curfews
  • An understanding of what language is acceptable
  • Guidelines on where in the home technology can and can’t be used
  • What websites, games and apps can be used
  • What to do if something of concern happens or a mistake is made.

Safeguard 2: Stay Current

Parents should increase their knowledge base as needed.

This does not mean staying current with all technology, only technology relevant to the family. Parents of five-year-old children do not necessarily need to know about Facebook yet. Staying current does not require parents becoming technology experts. It involves being across what children generally do on the internet, staying current by learning:

  • What devices can connect to the internet
  • When those devices are connected
  • Where kids are going online and what programs and games they are using
  • Who they are connected to

Parents stay current by talking to their children and other adults, seeking advice or asking questions from teachers and schools, and seeking information online.

Safeguard 3: Parents, Take Charge 

You are the one who controls technology and make the final decisions.

This is not about ‘mistrusting’ children; it is about acknowledging that they are children, they look at the world through different eyes and may not make the choices that are needed. As children grow, parents can let them make choices with less guidance but ensure their choices remain consistent with family requirements. The main decisions parents need to make surround:

  • When technology is used
  • Where technology is used
  • What programs, apps and sites are allowable
  • With whom a child can connect.

Don’t allow technology to take charge.

Do not believe that a program or website’s popularity, user numbers or profitability gives it credibility or suitability.

Safeguard 4: Use Management Controls 

Parents have a right to know where their children go and whom they communicate with.

Most schools have software or programs designed to monitor online activity. They do this because they have a duty of care for students. Parents also should have systems in place. Parents whose family have been devastated by online issues would now use monitoring or filtering software if they could turn back time and detect a potential problem early. They have told me so.

Most schools have software or programs designed to monitor online activity. They do this because they have a duty of care for students. Parents also should have systems in place. Parents whose family have been devastated by online issues would now use monitoring or filtering software if they could turn back time and detect a potential problem early. They have told me so.

There will be those who claim this is ‘spying’ on children, as though parents are doing something wrong. Am I spying on my teenage daughter because I want to know where she is going with her friends on Friday night and who will be there? Of course not. I need to know this to make sure she is safe. When children become adults, they will not harbour a grudge; they will thank their parent for caring enough to monitor their activity and most likely do the same with their children.

Parental controls work on a device or account to monitor or control information or activity. A variety of programs are available and some can be downloaded for free. More common functions include:

  • Blocking concerning websites
  • Setting time limits and ensuring curfews
  • Recording web sites visited
  • Recording conversations in certain programs
  • Limiting the downloading of particular apps
  • Notifying a parent of concerning activity

If parents start using monitoring or filtering programs early, it will become a part of their child’s online world. They will be accustomed to it at home, just as they can expect to encounter it at school and then in the workplace.

WARNING: Filtering or monitoring software should never be relied on as a total solution or a replacement for broader parental oversight. 

Safeguard 5: Communicate 

Create an environment of openness about technology and talk about it with your kids.

This is one strategy every parent can achieve and is the most important and effective safeguard against online issues. It is powerful to tell children, ‘If you have a problem on the internet, or even if you make a mistake, I want you to talk to me about it and I promise I will help you solve the problem so you can keep having a good time online.’

Healthy communication about technology occurs be seizing the opportunities:

  • Take 10 minutes each day during school drop-off or pick-up.
  • If you notice an unusual facial reaction after looking at a screen, ask what was that all about and is everything okay.
  • Have a chat around the dinner table about what’s happening online.
  • Direct children to and discuss media articles about technology.
  • Take other times to chat to children about what is happening online.

Never underestimate the value of face to face communication. Research has shown that families who sit around a dinner table at least three times a week and talk
are less likely to experience cyberbullying. The child ends up with a real feeling
of support. If a child sex offender approaches them online and learns that their parents know about what happens on the internet, they will not hang around. As children grow, the way parents communicate with them changes. When they are young parents “tell” them; as children move into their teens, the tone changes more to discussing, guiding and suggesting. Parents should never stop communicating. They should talk to their children, other parents, friends, family and school teachers.

To assist parents St Columba Anglican School has continued its association with Internet Safe Education with access to their online parenting courses. SCAS has had overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents who have completed these courses and we hope that more parents will engage with this valuable resource.

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