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Risk and consequences of the internet and mobile phones
The Internet can be a wonderful tool for learning, but as well as accessing educational information also has the possibility those children may access inappropriate information whilst online. Within the school setting children will have some protection, as school networks will have specialist software to block inappropriate websites.
There will be some children within the school setting who have access to the Internet at break and lunchtimes on their phones without censored search engines and it is important to be vigilant for any pupils who may be accessing and sharing inappropriate content with other children (children are more likely to be warned about bringing mobile phones on to school premises). Children are becoming more and more interested in IT by using mobile phones, laptops, iPods, computers etc and should be monitored in and out of the school. Mobile phones can be used appropriately rather than inappropriately as they could be used to communicate with their parents for forgetting work, PE clothes, school bags etc, but can also have devastating consequences for children if they are used inappropriately. Mobile phones can be used as a forum of bullying, both inside and outside the school setting. The support assistant needs to be watchful and should monitor mobile phone use in the classroom, at break times and lunchtimes to see what children are using them for. Most school’s have a policy for no mobile phones to be used or brought onto the school premises, as they can be sued to send abusive and threatening text across the classroom to bully and intimidate others.
Children sometimes hide their mobile phones in their pencil cases, up their blazer sleeves or under jumpers and will take any opportunity to get them out quickly when they think they are not being watched, so it is important to be vigilant at all times.
The table below shows the risks and consequences of mobile phones and then Internet.
|Can issue inappropriate content, pornography, cyber chatting (can lead to meeting strangers online and sharing of personal information)-paedophiles and other strangers could take advantage.||Online harassment, through e-mails, chat rooms, face book and other files that can be accessed. This could lead to suicide, self harming, mental breakdown etc.|
|Text messages- can be used to torment victims and at any time of the day or night.||Cyber bullying to hurt, upset, harass or embarrass others (could lead to suicide as a result)|
|Images or videos can be taken without others consent or knowledge and can be posted online.||Identity theft- could lead to a child’s or adult’s identity being stolen as personal information has been shared.|
|Texting- sexually suggestive or explicit messages or photographs (could lead to the victim self harming or committing suicide)||The child could be located in the real world by paedophiles etc which could lead to murder, rape and other upsetting factors.|
|Late night texting- can lead to tiredness, lack of concentration, and an inability to function in normal day to day activities at school.||Pornography can be easily located through the Internet, and misleading young girls to do things like stripping, prostitution, drug taking, alcohol consumption etc|
|Theft of expensive mobile phones could cause upset.||Chat rooms- could be chatting to the wrong person and leading them to run away from home (could lead to murder)|
|Health issues of long term usage of mobile phones.||Could get involved with gambling online which could be addicted in the long term.|
All these negative risks and possible consequences can be controlled by positive parenting strategies for the use of the Internet and mobile phones. The following could be used to control this.
- Talk often to the child about their safety
- Set ground rules for using the Internet and mobile phones (have penalties if this is abused)
- When and where the mobile can be used
- Do not let other children use your mobile phone for the use of the Internet
- No sending of mean or unkind messages via mobile phones or email on the Internet
- Think carefully about what you search for on the Internet, once shared images they cannot be reversed
- Be discreet in your use of your mobile phone; do not flash it around as it is a target for thieves.
- Monitor your child’s Internet sites they have looked at
- Be a good role model
- Have some daily routine by only using the Internet for one hour a day
- Take sensible precautions
Online bullying and social networking
The popularity of social networking sites increase year on year, and although the minimum age to hold an account is 13 years of age, children younger than this are creating accounts or getting family members to make accounts for them. Children are being bullied when using social networking and are suffering at the hands of bullies that are now finding that there is no respite at home as bullying becomes more of a cyber issue. Social networking and cyber bullying has massive consequences for some children, with suicide as the most dramatic consequence. Social networking not only involves one or two bullies, but could also involve a wider range of children that a child is connected with. Social networking also has the possibility of adult contact or content. Support assistants should be vigilant at all times at school to listen out for any comments at school amongst the children. Schools may also give advice and briefings about staying safe online and the dangers of social networking.
Cyber bullying is a form of harassment that makes use of the latest electronic technology. Primarily the harassment occurs on the web, but today’s smart phones are being used to harass people too. Cyber bullying differs from the more traditional forms of bullying in that it can occur at any time 24 hours a day. E-mail messages, videos and images can be distributed instantaneously to a worldwide audience with the perpetrator remaining anonymous, often making them difficult to trace. Children and teens are rarely concerned about Internet safety. Cyber bullying can have devastating effect on them. Suicides have been linked to the Internet. Social media sites can be sued for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school work and for entertainment, but these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar. Children who are cyber bullied are more likely to do the following.
- Use alcohol and drugs
- Skip school
- Experience in person bullying
- Be unwilling to attend school
- Receive poor grades
- Have low self esteem
- Have low self belief
- Feel worthless
- Have more health problems
- And many more
Ways of reducing risk to children and young people from the following.
- Social networking
- Internet use
- Buying online
- Using a mobile phone
The following table shows ways of protecting children and young people from harm and abuse.
|Protection from harm and abuse|
|Social networking||Should not be able to create accounts until the child is older and wiser.
Family members & friends should not create accounts for the children.
To be aware of the sites children & young people are using.
Make the child understand the risks & report anything they are worried about.
Understand safety messages.
Keep personal stuff private.
Block people who send nasty messages.
Monitor sites thy have accessed.
|Internet use||Enable confidence in the Internet through training & positive experiences.
Do not accept E-mails, messages or open files.
Encourage children to talk to you if they experience cyber bullying.
Use ground rules for using the Internet.
Speak to the child to deliver positive safety messages.
Talk to the child regarding inappropriate behaviour and sites.
Use parental controls- safety blocks etc.
Keep the computer in the family room so you can keep an eye on the child.
Set Internet rules.
Keep personal information private & do not share anything with strangers (address etc).
Teach children about cyber bullying.
|Buying online||Be careful not to sign up to any sites & do not give any personal information.
Children should not be allowed to have a debit card so this would stop them from buying online.
Secure your own cards, so your child cannot use it to buy goods (only register ion sites with passwords).
Encourage children to speak to you if they want to buy anything online.
|Using a mobile phone||Risk to the child’s health. They can reduce the risk by using landline phones, hands free, loud speakers etc.
Buy a cheap phone, less risk of it being stolen.
Know your child’s phone functions (ask company what safety measures can be put in place).
Block certain sites on the Internet avoiding the child to access.
Use rules, where, when & how mobile phones can be used (not at mealtimes, not at school or during lessons).
Do not let other children use your mobile phone.
Do not send mean & upsetting messages.
Think carefully what you share (images) from your phone once sent it cannot be reversed.
Be discreet of your mobile phone.
Guided learning activity
Children today are increasingly using ICT at school and at home. It is not just about using computers and the Internet, but includes a huge range of devices, such as cameras, videos, video cameras, remote control devices, DS games, mobile phones and much more.
This is often a huge worry for parents but there are many things that can be put in place to help keep children safe online. However supervision and keeping on open dialogue with the child about what they are doing is the most important thing. Many Internet providers offer systems to help keep children safe at home, but it can still be easy for children to stray onto inappropriate material, whether texts or images. One of the ways of protecting children is to place the computer in a family area of the home and not in a bedroom; this will help to monitor what the child is doing when they are using the Internet.
The Internet can be an amazing resource, fun and informative. You do not need to stop the child from using the information and games available on it, but you can set simple rules for keeping them safe, make sure they understand the rules and know why they are necessary.
- Do not reply to nasty messages you receive
- Do not reply to texts from someone you do not know
- Keep the message you have received so you can show them to a trusted adult and make a note of the time and date you have received them
- Do not answer calls from a withheld number that you do not recognise
- Block numbers from people who are sending you nasty messages
- Change your number if you are being bullied
- Do not give your number to someone you do not know
- Do not send pictures to someone you do not know
- If the problem is serious you can report it to the police, cyber mentors or child line, parents or teachers
Safety concerns regarding Internet usage and use of mobile phones
|Internet usage||Use of mobile phones|
|Inappropriate material (pornography)||Sex ting (sending inappropriate texts that make the victim uncomfortable)|
|Cyber bullying||Inappropriate images (pornography)|
|Online predators (strangers wanting private information- paedophiles)||Strangers calling (with held numbers)|
|Sharing personal information (could be involved in online fraud)||Internet access (could access any site in the Internet)|
|E-mail and chat rooms (chatting to strangers about inappropriate material)||Video game safety (could play games designed for older children)|
|Sharing pictures and videos||Bullying (could be bullied using texts and calls)|
|Social networking sites (accessing inappropriate sites)||Harassment (constantly phoning and texting victim 24 hours)|
|Online gaming (gambling) viruses||Could be stolen if expensive|
Keep safe by being careful not to give out personal information when you are chatting online. It includes your E mail address, phone number, school address, home address and password.
Meeting someone you have only been in touch with online can be dangerous. Remember online friends are still strangers even if you have been talking to them for a long time.
Accepting E-mails, instant messages, or opening files, pictures or texts from people you do not know or trust can lead to problems. They may contain viruses or nasty upsetting messages.
Someone online might lie about who they are and might give information that is not true. It is best just to chat to your real world friends and family.
Tell your parents or carer if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied online or by phone.
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