As part of the School’s responsibility to look after the wider interests of our students and indeed of our wider community, we wanted to raise the issue of webcam and video calling and conferencing apps with you.
Open – or potentially open – video calling an conferencing applications are very rarely good things for young people. This is not the same as a direct person-to-person video call with a ‘real’ friend or family member, or an organised event where, for example, our Business society have arranged video conference sessions to allow our students to speak with entrepreneurs.
More open applications have very few protections on them, and those protections that are there are often weak and easily got around. Lots of these sites have a minimum age requirement of 13 – Facebook, SnapChat, Instagram and Twitter, for example – and some have a minimum age of 17 – Yellow, a new ‘dating’ app linked to SnapChat has an over 17s only rule and live.me, another new open video-conferencing app, has no age limits at all.
Even when there are age limits there is virtually no ‘active’ policing of what goes on within these applications – nobody other than you is checking that inappropriate people are not contacting your children.
If you are happy with your children using these video-calling applications, there are some things we would strongly recommend:-
1. Talk to them regularly about safety and security online, including on their phone. Make sure they know they are not to be in contact with people they don’t know and especially not with adults.
2. Make sure you know their passwords, and use them from time to time to check that all is well in their accounts.
3. Sit down with them to set the security levels on their accounts to a safe level – no contacts with people outside their approved contact lists and no content shared with anyone outside their contact lists – and go back and check those security levels from time to time.
4. Make sure they know that they can, should and indeed really must talk to you if they are at all worried about anything that happens online – even if they’re worried or embarrassed that they might have done something a bit dumb.
We are very happy to try to answer general or specific questions about online safety – you can contact Mrs Welfair, the Safeguarding officer, or Mr Fletcher, the E-Safety Co-Ordinator, or you can ask a question through your child’s form tutor.
We will hold an information session about E Safety on Thursday 16th February at 6pm and all Key Stage 3 parents are welcome to attend (and there will be a follow up meeting for KS4 parents) – please watch out for a letter home with more information.