15 September 2017
By Rebecca Avery

Back to School Resources from InternetMatters #OneWord

As children face increased digital pressure during the back to school period, Internet Matters have launched a new campaign, #oneword to help parents decode their digital lives. The campaign hopes to help parents understand their children's hidden digital anxieties as they head back to school. It comes as a new survey by Internet Matters of over 10,000 schoolchildren (aged 6 to 18) revealed:

  • 52% would not speak to their parents if they had been upset by something online, compared to 91% who said they would turn to them if upset face-to-face.
  • Nine out of 10 (92%) of children said they would turn to their teacher if they had been upset face to face. Yet only 33% would turn to them if they had been upset by something online.
  • Children were more likely to turn to the police (60%), their friends (59%) or another family member (50%) before they told their parents about their online concerns.
  • 24% of children admitted they sometimes could not sleep because they were thinking about things that happened online.
  • One in seven children (14%) admitted to spending more than six hours online per day while one in three (35%) admitted they spend too much time online.

Internet Matters have created a range of  internet safety guides, videos and advice with parents and carers.

  • Parents can check their children’s mobile devices are set-up safely here, including a simple video tutorial.
  • For a guide to common online safety concerns click here.
  • For top tips on how to start a conversation about online safety here.

Internet Matters have also created four short videos to help highlight how children may feel reluctant to open up to their parents if they get into trouble online. The videos focus on key issues including cyberbullying, sexting, inappropriate content and the pressures to be popular online.

Schools and educational settings may also wish to share the following tips from Internet Matters with parents and carers. Tips to help parents decode their children’s digital world: Talk early and often

  • Talk with children from an early age to make it easier to maintain good communication
  • Have bitesize conversations that are relevant to them

Choose the right time

  • Choose to talk when you are due to spend some time together, like over a meal or during their bedtime routine
  • Bring digital experience into normal, everyday conversations.

Open up and share too

  • Model the behaviour you want them to show by sharing about your day
  • Be open and encouraging to make them feel supported.

Create a safe space for your child

  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Ensure that your child feels listened to rather than cornered
  • When they start talking, hold off with questions and really listen
  • Be prepared, calm and patient with them.

Three tips from Internet Matters Expert, Dr Linda Papadopoulos on decoding digital anxiety:

  • Children may feel embarrassed or humiliated to tell you about what they’ve seen online so often asking ‘How was your day?’ doesn’t always work; try asking ‘what were the best and worst things about your day? It will elicit a more thoughtful response.
  • Bed time provides the perfect opportunity to talk to your child about their digital anxieties. Children employ delay tactics when going to bed, so use it to your advantage and start a conversation about their online world. Remember a good night’s sleep is invaluable in allowing them to feel refreshed to tackle issues on their own.
  • Once you’ve managed to decode their digital world, keep conversations going and stay involved with what they’re getting up to online.

Ideas for Educational Settings

The resources will be useful for early years settings and schools to share with parents/carers. Suggestions to use these resources include:

  • Sharing them directly with parents/carers throughout the term (on throughout the school year) via email and/or newsletters.
  • Sharing resources such as the videos or infographics via official social media platforms such as the settings Facebook page or Twitter account.
  • Using the resources (as appropriate to their age and ability) with learners  to stimulate discussions about online safety. Likely to be best used with upper KS2 and KS3/4.
  • Using the resources within the classroom and working with learners to create other resources - for example new videos, conversation starters or guides for setting controls on their favourite apps/games. These can then be shared with parents/carers.
  • Use the resources as a stimulus for working with learners to create their own 'parental contracts' or agreements to take home.
  • Designing and undertaking their own survey about  how learners in the setting use the internet.
  • Don't forget that many staff will be parents/carers as well, so share the resources in the staff room or via staff communications.