Here's a really good website on Online safety and parental controls:
Everywhere we look, technology seems to be taking over our lives! From online shopping to online banking, from keeping in touch with friends via text message, to voting for our favourite X-Factor finalist! Learning in school has also changed dramatically due to the rise of the Internet and handheld devices, and the amazing opportunities they provide. In recent months, with the introduction of the new curriculum, computing and technology has made a shift towards computational thinking to give the children a better start at entering the technological world we live in. Instead of shutting out such changes, we have decided to embrace them. Some are described below, along with steps you can take to make sure your child is safe while they are using technology and the Internet.
How your child uses Technology at school
Computing in schools is taught as a subject in its own right and also supports children’s learning in other subjects, including English and Mathematics. Within Computing lessons, children learn to use a wide range of technology including:
Word Processing to write stories, poems or letters; Databases to record information, e.g. minibeasts; Spreadsheets to create tables, charts and graphs; Digital creativity to design posters, leaflets or cards; Multimedia Presentation to present text, pictures, sound and video; Creative arts packages to develop pictures and designs; Internet to find information; A wide range of digital workflows to collaborate with children and teachers, either locally or internationally; Digital Cameras to record what they have done in class or on a visit; Electronic Sensors to record changes in light, sound and temperature; Computer programs or programmable toys to create and debug simple programs and algorithms; Simulations to explore real and imaginary situations; Website Publishing to present ideas over the Internet.
Computing and Technology does not begin and end with learning the skills above. A main priority for ourselves is to ensure children are safe and secure when using technology. To ensure this happens, e safety is taught and embedded across all subjects. We ensure children know what is right and wrong and that they know the right choices to make when communicating on line. At Jesmond Gardens, we look to cover the social and moral sides of online safety and how it affects us and these are covered within PSHE in our Autumn term and through termly assemblies.
How you can help your child at home
Computing is not just about using a computer. It also includes the use of controllable toys, digital cameras and everyday equipment such as a DVD player, mobile phone, Nintendo DS... the list is endless!
Children can be helped to develop their computing skills at home by:
- - Writing a letter to a relative
- - Sending an email to a friend
- - Drawing a picture on screen
- - Using the Internet to research a school topic
- - Planning a route with a controllable toy
- - Using interactive games.
How learning at home with technology benefits children
Home use of technology by children:
- - Improves their computing skills
- - Offers them choice in what they learn and how they learn it
- - Supports homework and revision
- - Improves the presentation of their work
- - Connects learning at school with learning at home
- - Makes learning more fun.
- - Develops critical thinking and problem solving
All this can lead to better performance at school and an improved standard of work.
Benefits of using technology at home
How we know that using technology at home can help!
Many studies have looked at the benefits of having access to a computer and/or the Internet at home. Here are some of the key findings:
- - Used effectively, technology can improve children’s achievement
- - Using technology at home and at school develops skills for life
- - Children with supportive and involved parents and carers do better at school
- - Children enjoy using technology
- - Using technology provides access to a wider and more flexible range of learning materials.
Using the Internet safely at home
Whilst many Internet Service Providers offer filtering systems and tools to help you safeguard your child at home, it remains surprisingly easy for children to access inappropriate material including unsuitable text, pictures and movies. Parents are advised to set the security levels within Internet Explorer or other browsers with this in mind. In the olden days (!), you could put a computer in a family room to enable you to supervise your son or daughter as they used the Internet. This is no longer the case given mobile phones and games consoles and other devices can access the Internet. However, don’t deny them the opportunity to learn from and enjoy the wide variety of material and games available on the Internet. Instead discuss with them some simple rules for keeping safe online and making sure they understand their importance.
Simple rules for keeping your child safe
To keep your child safe they could:
- - Ask permission before using the Internet and discuss what websites they are using
- - Only use websites you have chosen together or a child friendly search engine
- - Only email people they know, (why not consider setting up an address book?)
- - Ask permission before opening an email sent by someone they don’t know
- - Not use their real name when instant messaging, using games or websites on the Internet, (create a nick name)
- - Never give out any personal information about themselves, friends or family online including home address, phone or mobile number
- - Never arrange to meet someone they have ‘met’ on the Internet without talking to an adult first; always take an adult and meet in a public place
- - Never tell someone they don’t know where they go to school or post any pictures of themselves in school uniform
- - Only use a webcam with people they know
- - Tell you immediately if they see anything they are unhappy with.
Using these rules
Go through these rules with your child whenever you buy them a new phone, handheld device, laptop etc. Discuss how you are going to monitor their Internet use; is it a good idea to regularly check the Internet sites your child is visiting e.g. by clicking on History and Favourites for example, are there things you could monitor together? Reassure your child that you want to keep them safe rather than take Internet access away from them. Create a dialogue and a relationship of mutual respect as far as the Internet is concerned.
For further information, the websites on this page offer practical advice: