It has come to our attention that some children at Stanwix have Facebook profiles even though the permitted minimum age to use the site is 13, according to the site’s terms and conditions.
Stanwix School is committed to promoting the safe and responsible use of the Internet and as such we feel it is our responsibility to raise this particular issue as a concern. Websites such as Facebook offer amazing communication and social connections, however they are created with their audience in mind and this is specifically over 13 years old. Possible risks for children under 13 using the site may include:
- Facebook uses ‘age targeted’ advertising and therefore your child could be exposed to adverts of a sexual or other inappropriate nature, depending on the age they stated they were when they registered (remembering that, because of the 13 year old age limit, they will have had to lie about their age to join).
- Children may accept friend requests from people they don’t know in real life which could increase the risk of inappropriate contact or behaviour.
- Language, games, groups and content posted or shared on Facebook is not moderated, and therefore can be offensive, illegal or unsuitable for children.
- Photographs shared by users are not moderated and therefore children could be exposed to inappropriate images or even post their own.
- Underage users might be less likely to keep their identities private and lying about their age can expose them to further risks regarding privacy settings and options.
- Facebook could be exploited by bullies and for other inappropriate contact.
- Beware! Facebook cannot and does not verify its members, therefore it is important to remember that if your child can lie about who they are online, so can anyone else!
We feel it important to point out to parents the risks of underage use of such sites, so you can make an informed decision as to whether to allow your child to have a profile or not. These profiles will have been created away from school and sometimes by a child, their friends, siblings or even parents. We will take action (such as reporting under aged profiles) if a problem comes to our attention that involves the safety or wellbeing of any of our children.
Should you decide to allow your child to have a Facebook profile we strongly advise you: Check their profile is set to private and that only friends can see information that is posted.
Monitor your child’s use and talk to them about safe and appropriate online behaviour such as not sharing personal information and not posting offensive messages or photos.
Ask them to install the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) application from www.facebook.com/clickceop on their profile. This places a bookmark on their profile to CEOP and the Report Abuse button which has been known to deter offenders.
Have a look at the advice for parents/carers from Facebook www.facebook.com/help/?safety=parents
Set up your own profile so you understand how the site works and ask them to have you as a friend on their profile so you know what they are posting online.
Make sure your child understands the following rules:
- Always keep your profile private
- Never accept friends you don’t know in real life
- Never post anything which could reveal your identity
- Never post anything you wouldn’t want your parents to see
- Never agree to meet somebody you only know online without telling a trusted adult
- Always tell someone if you feel threatened or someone upsets you
We’d recommend that all parents visit the CEOP Think U Know website for more information on keeping your child safe online www.thinkuknow.co.uk If you would like any further information please don’t hesitate to contact me.
E-Safety Tips for Parents
E-Safety means being safe and responsible with technology. At Stanwix we believe that children should be encouraged to use new technology and to embrace the positive impact it can have for their education. However, we also recognise the risks and dangers new technologies can bring; especially from the internet. The School keeps up to date with recent and relevant policies concerning home and public safety regarding use of the internet and other IT related topics.
- Know what your children are doing online and who they are talking to: Ask them to teach you to use any applications you have never used.
- Keeping the computer in a family room: This means that you can share your child’s online experience and that they are less likely to act inappropriately (via a webcam for instance) or that outside contacts will do so.
- Help your children to understand: That they should never give out personal details to online friends – personal information includes their messenger ID, email address, mobile number and any pictures of themselves, their family or friends. If your child publishes a picture or video online, anyone can change it or share it. Remind them that anyone may be looking at their images.
- Spam and Junk Mail: If your child receives spam/junk email & texts, remind them never to believe them, reply to them or use them.
- It’s not a good idea for your child to open files that are from people they don’t know. They won’t know what they contain – it could be a virus, or worse – an inappropriate image or film.
- Friending: Help your child to understand that some people lie online and therefore it’s better to keep online mates online. They should never meet up with any strangers without an adult they trust. Always keep communication open for a child to know that it’s never too late to tell someone if something makes them feel uncomfortable.
- E-Safety Posters: E-Safety posters are displayed in Stanwix classrooms. Why not put one up next to the computer at home and talk about it with your children?
- Facebook, Bebo and Myspace: Many of these sites have a minimum age limit of 13, so our pupils should NOT be using them. They allow children to communicate with anyone.
- Keep your computer in a shared area: Talk to your child about what they are doing online and, if possible, set up your computer in a shared area at home so that you can all share in the wonderful sites that are available online.
Links to further information:
- Think U Know: Containing internet safety advice for those aged from 5 to 16, along with parents and teachers, this site is produced by CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre).
- www.ceop.gov.uk: The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
- Know IT All: Lots of useful advice for keeping yourselves and your children safe on the Internet.