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Online Safety

Online Safety Guidance

Be Positive and try something new. The Internet is a fabulous place with a wealth of resources for you to use, even more so at this current time as many ‘paid for’ resources are giving their content away for free for a limited time. Why not learn something new? Take an online course? You have the time now to pursue an interest rather than just completing work that you’ve been set.

Check information. It’s understandable that you may turn to the Internet to seek answers you may have about the coronavirus or other things. If you do this, try to use reputable and well-known web sites and remember the Internet is a public space where anyone can post anything, whether true or not. Try to confirm information by looking it up on a number of different sites and don’t just assume the first link on a Google search will be the best source of information.

Protect your online reputation. Be careful about what you post. Content posted online can last forever and could be shared publicly by anyone. If you wouldn’t print information on a t-shirt and walk through the centre of town with it on, is it suitable to share online?

Know where to find help. Understand how to report to service providers and never be afraid to use blocking and deleting tools. If something happens that upsets you online, it’s never too late to tell someone.

Don’t give in to pressure. If you lose your inhibitions you’ve lost control. Once you’ve pressed send you can’t take it back.
Know who you’re talking to online. Remember, not everyone online is who they say they are. People who you have met online may have ulterior motives or may not have your best interests at heart. Protect yourself and distance yourself from these people if necessary. Do not be afraid to block anyone that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Respect other people and their views. Even if you don’t agree with people, keep things polite. If you see something you disagree with online, it may be easier to scroll on rather than getting into an argument with someone.

Scams. Cyber-criminals have been found to target individuals as well as organisations, particularly at times such as this as they play on people’s fear of coronavirus. Phishing attacks try to trick victims into handing out sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords. Often arriving by genuine-looking emails, they tempt users to click on links where they are directed to a spoof login page where the victim enters their details. The scammers then take these details and log in to the genuine site with them. For further information, see here.

Take a break. We all need time away from technology to help our mental and physical health. Consider setting ground rules for the use of technology with your household and stick to them. Try to get outside once a day, in line with any government guidelines of course!

As everybody knows, we are in unprecedented times. With many confined to their homes for long periods, the demand for internet services is rising rapidly. For many, these services are a lifeline, but this is probably a good time to remind ourselves of a few key points to keep safe online:

Talking with children and young people about the pandemic. Children and young people are the same as the rest of us. There is understandable a lot of confusion around coronavirus and its impact. While nobody is expected to have all the answers, an open discussion with children can help allay their fears. If you don’t know the answers to their questions, consider researching to find out together. Think about the sources you’re using, are they reliable? How do you know?

Talking with children and young people about their use of technology. It’s also a good time to have that conversation about what your children are doing online. Try and be as open and non-judgemental as you can, keep the lines of conversation open and take a genuine interest in what they’re doing. Some of you may be able to encourage them to show you and teach you how to use that game or whatever else they’re doing.

Embrace the positives. There is a wealth of content out there to help youngsters. Even more so at the moment as many services that have been available at a cost are being given away free for limited periods. Social media can be an invaluable tool for communicating with friends and relatives who are socially isolating and can be used to maintain contacts whilst observing social distancing rules.

Be mindful of online contacts. Whilst social media can be a fabulous way of keeping in touch with others – not always a bad thing depending on the age of the user – please take the opportunity to remind the young people in your care about the dangers of communicating with people they do not know in the real world. Remind yourself of how privacy settings work on particular sites/apps (or ask your young person to show you) and discuss how to block users if the need arises. For more details on many of the most popular online platforms/apps, see here. See here too for advice on a number of different internet-connected devices.

Think before you share. An old mantra, but an important one. If you wouldn’t print information on a t-shirt and walk through the centre of town with it on, is it suitable to share online? When people are bored, they often lower their guard and share more personal information than normally they would. Think carefully too about information you share that you cannot validate. Social media is great at spreading information from ‘expert’ sources that might not be so expert!

Scams. Cyber-criminals have been found to target individuals as well as organisations, particularly at times such as this as they play on people’s fear of coronavirus. Phishing attacks try to trick victims into handing out sensitive information, such as usernames and passwords. Often arriving by genuine-looking emails, they tempt users to click on links where they are directed to a spoof login page where the victim enters their details. The scammers then take these details and log in to the genuine site with them. For further information, see here.

Securing Support. If you choose to supplement your child’s work from school with the support of online tutors or tuition companies, try to ensure that these are reputable and evidence is available that they are safe and can be trusted. Sadly, some people with dubious motives may use the current situation to try and initiate contact with young people and harm them.

Consider setting boundaries. With young people being at home for long periods, it’s very tempting for them to spend extended periods using technology. Consider setting limits or establish guidelines for the use of technology and get agreement from all of the family. This could include limiting the use of technology to certain times of day or setting time limits. Remember that time out of the house, withing government guidelines, is also vital to everyone’s mental and physical health.

Latest Resources

Ditto is a monthly publication written by Online Safety Specialist Alan Mackenzie. Issues can be downloaded from esafety-adviser.com/newsletter

Online Safety Strategy

At Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, students use technology regularly as part of their learning. Students in all year groups receive training about how to keep themselves safe in the online world. These sessions are supplemented with age appropriate assemblies at various times throughout the year.

At present our offerings are:

Year GroupOnline Safety Provision
7Online Safety in Design and Innovation lessons during the Autumn term, with a strong focus on the issues surrounding personal behaviour online including cyberbullying, social media, sexting and protecting ourselves. In addition, several assemblies are scheduled each year*.
8 9 10 11 12 13Regular assemblies are scheduled, usually at least twice during the school year*. These include a range of Online Safety subjects and appropriate behaviour when online.

*Due to the fast-paced nature of change in this area, special assemblies/lessons are organised when the need arises or new risks become apparent. Due to the advent of modern technology, particularly internet-ready smart phones, it is recognised that lines between use of the Internet at home and school are becoming increasingly blurred. Content that the school considers inappropriate is blocked in school, but this does not prevent students accessing it from mobile devices at home or on their way to and from school.

Because of the wide range of devices that can be used to access it, banning access to the Internet completely is not practical. We try and give our students the tools and understanding with which to keep safe.

School Computer Systems

All members of the QEGS community are granted access to the school’s IT systems and are required to sign up to our Acceptable Use Policy. All users are given regular reminders about safe working practices and are subject to having access withdrawn in the case of serious misdemeanour. More minor transgressions are dealt with in line with whole school behaviour policies. School IT systems are monitored and sites that the school considers inappropriate are blocked. The activities of all users are tracked and recorded and this data is stored and may be retrieved at a later date.

Social Networking and Personal Information

Technology creates a public space where we can all network, engage and challenge. As with any public space, there are risks associated of which everyone should take precautions to minimise:

Online Safety Tips:

  • Ensure privacy settings are turned on so that only friends and family can see your personal information, including your location.
  • Never give out personal information, such as date of birth, real name, address, telephone number or location, online.
  • Only ‘friend’ people online that you know in the real world.
  • Use a nickname rather than your real name when registering online.
  • Do not post videos/images of your school, work place or home that could be used to identify your location.
  • Never arrange to meet anyone in person that you only know online.
  • When registering on web sites, give the minimum amount of information required.
  • Ensure you have anti-virus software installed and updated.

The tips above have been around for a number of years. More recently, the increase in the use of mobile applications, or ‘apps’, has meant that dangers have moved closer to home. Unfortunately, young people can get involved in risky behaviour in their own homes, and vigilance from all stakeholders is vital to keeping the young people in our care safe.

What can I do?

The number one tip for keeping your child safe is to talk to them. Anyone with teenagers will know this can be difficult, but try to encourage them to talk to you about what they’re doing with technology, even ask them to teach you! Try and not be intimidated by the technology and be as open with your child as possible. Other tips include:

  • Discuss any worries or concerns your child may have in an open and non-judgemental way.
  • Remind them to keep personal information safe.
  • Set a good example. Explain why you are protecting your information and pictures.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Discourage them from “collecting friends”. Only be friends online with people you know offline – it’s the quality of friends, not the quantity, which counts.
  • Let your child use you as an excuse to be safe if they need to. Saving face with their peers by blaming Mum or Dad may give your child space to do what is right.

Further Information

Concerns about Young People:

If you have any concerns about your, or another, child, please contact the relevant Progress Leader at QEGS. Staff responsibilities can be found on the full staff list here.

Non-QEGS students: If you are concerned about any young person in respect of their emotional wellbeing or you feel that they are vulnerable to harm or abuse and you are uncertain whether they are receiving support, you may wish to contact one of the agencies listed. Many of the agencies have established links and will ensure that your concern or query is directed to the appropriate agency.

  • Call Derbyshire (Derbyshire County Council Social Services): 01629 533190
  • First Contact (Derby City Council Social Services): 01332 641172
  • First Response (Staffordshire County Council Social Services): 0800 131 3126
  • ChildLine: 0800 11 11
  • NSPCC: 080 800 5000
  • Concerns about Grooming or Child Sexual Exploitation: Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency (CEOP): www.ceop.police.uk
  • Concerns about Child Sexual Exploitation: Safe and Sound (Derby): 01332 362120
  • Advice, support and options if you, or someone you love, goes missing or runs away. 24 Hour Anonymous Helpline: Text or Call 116 000
  • Crimestoppers UK: 0800 555 111
  • Concerns about Extremism or Radicalisation. Please see the information at: www.derbyshire.police.uk
  • The Police: 101 (999 in an emergency)

Social Media Reporting Tools:

Unfortunately, many social networking apps do not make reporting inappropriate use straightforward. As always, extreme care should be taken to avoid sharing any personal information online. Any suspicions of criminal activity should be reported to the police.

Other Useful links:

Please Note – QEGS is not responsible for the content of external sites.

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Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School, Ashbourne Derbyshire