Advice for pupils and parents
At Trinity we take our duty to look after pupils welfare very seriously and of late, we have observed a significant increase in the amount of serious issues revolving around the use of computers, the Internet, Blackberry Messenger (BBM), text messages, voice-mail, mobile phones, X-Box ‘parties’, Facebook and the like. Some cases have had to be referred to the police for further.
In many of the instances that we have to deal with parents seem unaware of the possible issues of the technology their children are using. In most instances parents are unaware of the types of conversations / communications that their children are involved in.
Parents are often surprised to hear that their child is involved in behaviour that could cause the school and/or police to be involved. However, it is the case that any child with these tools in their un-censored possession could become involved in such behaviour. It often starts innocently but can escalate to more serious conduct and more serious consequences.
With this in mind, we are making the following recommendations. Please consider these seriously even if you feel your child has never been involved in any trouble and even if you feel they are ‘grown-up’ enough not to need censorship (these are reasons often cited after trouble has occurred.) We are more than happy for parents to use this letter to reinforce any changes that you may implement at home that young people may be unhappy about. We feel that, whilst potentially difficult, children and their parents should be challenging this difficult situation together.
Failure to implement sensible precautions may result in children being victims of bullying, bullying themselves, ‘grooming’ situations or being exposed to damaging material or situations.
Parents / Guardians must monitor the use of computers by their children to keep their own children safe.
- Have any computers in a hallway or family room downstairs not in a private area (like your child’s bedroom). The same should apply to laptops and other devices with access to the Internet such as mobile phones and games consoles.
- Ensure that you have all passwords to e-mail accounts and sites the children use and PIN numbers to mobile phones. If they change the passwords find out why. Check what they are doing regularly. Monitor texts – if children do not want you to see what they are writing then there may be cause for concern. If they would not say it in your presence then they should not be texting it.
- Do not allow the use of Facebook or other social networking for children under 13 years old. The Terms and Conditions state that children of this age should not be using Facebook. If doing so then they are breaking the sites own rules.
- If pupils ‘have to’ use Facebook then the number of ‘friends’ should be kept to a number lower than 50. Children should be able to physically describe all their friends on Facebook. If they do not know them well enough to speak to in person then they should not be communicating on the Internet. (This is a cause of many many problems in school.)
- Use security packages from your Internet Service Provider (ISP) that allow ‘logging’ for any Internet traffic. It is vital that your provider / manual / expert friend shows you how to do this. All Internet traffic is then (and only then) recorded and, if necessary, the Police can track anyone trying to access your accounts (or your children).
- Check Internet histories regularly. Again, if these have been cleared by children, expect the worst.
- Have a family rule that there is no Internet use for children after, say, 9.30pm.
- Do not let your children start their own web site.
- Do not let your children reveal their name, nickname, family name, address or area of residence on the Internet. This gives the worst of people access to them and puts them at danger of grooming behaviour.
- Do not let your children use web cams or post videos of themselves. Once a video is posted it is impossible to get it back and can be abused.
- Install a Firewall such as Zone Alarm on your computer to stop people gaining access to your systems.
- Install virus checkers such as AVG or Kaspersky to stop damaging information polluting your computer system or spyware putting your family at risk of fraud or worse.
If in doubt about any computer or Internet based activity seek our advice.