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Online Safety During the School Shutdown

We thought it would be useful to provide specific advice about online safety during the period of school closures. This is the first of our updates.

Seven Steps to Online Safety and Digital Wellbeing During the Covid-19 Pandemic

  • Talk to children early in the period of school closure to establish your expectations about the use of technology; 
  • Agree some ground rules; 
  • Ask children to tell you what they can do to stay safe online; 
  • Specifically discuss behaviour towards others & what to do when things go wrong online; 
  • Be informed - see list of useful websites below; 
  • Use parental controls and make sure privacy settings protect your children (see below);
  • Keep reading the updates for this blog for more advice and guidance.

Following the government’s decision to close schools to slow the spread of the coronavirus, it is likely that many children will be spending more time online (for learning and entertainment) and to use devices to continue to interact with others. 

The government’s new measures require all of us to avoid leaving our homes unless necessary and specifically prohibit meeting in groups. Therefore, communication with family members and friends using online platforms and electronic devices is likely to be helpful in reducing the emotional effects of social isolation. 

In addition, technology will provide an important tool to allow us to make sure that learning continues while schools are shut for most children. 

Nevertheless, it will be important for us to be aware of and minimise the possible dangers which may result from this increased use of technology. 

These dangers include: 

  • excessive use of technology 
  • stranger danger 
  • danger of seeing inappropriate or explicit content 
  • online bullying 
  • emotional impact of use of social media 
  • exposure to inaccurate or distressing information about Covid-19 

Our school websites already contain many useful guides about safer use of technology - including use of parental controls. During the period when schools remain closed for most pupils we will continue to add information to the Equals Trust Website.  

It will be sensible to have a talk with your children early on in this period to agree some expectations for their use of technology during the period of school closure. You could talk about when (and for how long) they will be able to use technology and when this needs to be to support learning and when it can be for relaxation and contact with friends. You should also establish that your permission is important if they want to use a new site, game or social media tool. 

Childnet have previously provided a useful guide to talking to your children about their use of technology. This could help you structure your conversations with your children about their use of technology. This really useful guide is attached to this blog post. You can also click on the image to access it online on the  Childnet website.

Following your conversation, you could ask them to make a poster summarising the rules you have agreed!

Childnet - 10 Key Message


Other Useful Websites - guidance about online safety for different age groups

Common Sense Media - general advice for families during the Covid-19 pandemic - easy to follow advice for parents - this link is to the section on setting parental controls