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Online Safety: Parents and Carers

Parents and carers

"Schools and colleges are likely to be in regular contact with parents and carers. Those communications should be used to reinforce the importance of children being safe online and parents and carers are likely to find it helpful to understand what systems schools and colleges use to filter and monitor online use. It will be especially important for parents and carers to be aware of what their children are being asked to do online, including the sites they will asked to access and be clear who from the school or college (if anyone) their child is going to be interacting with online."

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Online Safety is an important part of an educational settings responsibility to safeguard children; we can teach and empower learners to understand how to be safe and behave appropriately online, but these messages can only be successful if they’re supported and reinforced by parents and carers when children are at home.

Parents and carers can sometimes be a difficult group to engage with; lack of time or limited knowledge and understanding about how technology works may mean some parents and carers lack confidence around keeping their children safe online. Alternatively, some families may think they already do enough to protect their children by banning and blocking certain websites.

Our blog post 'How can we get families more involved in Online Safety?' can help schools and settings consider different parental engagement approaches.

Useful resources for further information

The following websites  are recommend links for schools and settings to share with parents/cares. They contain huge amounts of useful resources on general online safety advice, to specific concerns or targeted support for more vulnerable children:

Harmful online challenges and online hoaxes

Viral reports about online challenges, dangerous/scare stories or hoaxes are commonly shared online via social media. Whilst sharing warning about specific risks, challenges, apps or trends is often done with good intentions, it can pose risks and can unintentionally have harmful consequences. The content of the stories vary but usually contain warnings about distressing or harmful content, or report to be encouraging individuals to harm themselves, others, or property; these stories however are usually found to not be based on factual or real cases, and have been created to cause fear and panic. The SWGfL produced a report in  2019 called 'Digital Ghost Stories' which explored the phenomena.

Children and young people should be free to enjoy the internet safely. The online environment schools and early years settings create, how they plan and respond to harmful online challenges and online hoaxes, and how they teach about online safety, are important. It is essential that education settings and parents/carers work together to ensure children know how to report concerns and can seek help if they see or experience upsetting things online; we encourage all educational settings to 'think before they share' online warnings with their communities.

Advice for settings regarding sharing online warnings with parents/carers about viral online, stories or challenges, or specific apps or games can be found at: