Following the highly successful and informative sessions with Dr. Maureen Griffin, on Sept. 17th, she kindly forwarded on some key points of information as well as some links to excellent sites that can inform and educate us all about online safety for our pupils and children!
The key issues for some students, consistent with other schools across Ireland, were as follows:
1. Parental Involvement. While some students had to receive password approval from a parent before downloading an App onto their device, some students were able to download an app onto their device with no parental involvement. As the digital age of consent is 16, parental involvement is central in ensuring the app is age appropriate, the privacy setting are activated and advice is offered to children regarding challenges a particular app may present.
2. Screen Time. Safefoods recommends a max of 2 hours per day. However, a large proportion of students reported spending longer than this on their devices.
3. Technology in bedrooms and the impact on sleep. Children need 9-11 hours sleep every night. As seen in the student session, a number of students have devices in their bedrooms, and while they may be using them positively now it is creating the habit and may pose challenges when they move onto secondary school. I would recommend a device free bedroom at bedtime.
4. Class Group Chats, which are often created as a means of getting to known new people, find out what is for homework and generally stay in touch with class mates. Students admitted to having a Snapchat group in 6th class. A conversation about what is okay and not okay to do in a group, and encouraging students to leave and delete groups which target others, is important.
5. Use of age-inappropriate Apps and Games. Some students admitted to playing 18+ first person shooter games (e.g. Call of Duty Black Ops). Students also admitted to using popular apps such as Snapchat (13+), Tik Tok(13+) and Youtube(13+) although no child was yet 13 years.
I have attached some resources based on the issues I feel are most relevant for your students.
1. The Sleep Programme, which is designed for older teens/young adults, but there may be aspects which come in useful for class. Setting a challenge for students, to give up screens after a set time and see how long they can last and the impact it has on sleep quality and general well being, may also help. Little challenges like this every now and again can make students more aware of the impact technology is having on their sleep. I have also included a research study by Common Sense Media on Screens and Sleep.
2. Parental Guides on various apps/ online issues available from the National Online Safety UK https://nationalonlinesafety.com/resources/platform-guides/ They cover a range of popular apps and issues such as social media addiction, grooming, sexting etc. The guides offer practical advice and are a great resource for parents. You could release one guide to parents every week/fortnight to keep the conversation going. I have attached some here, but many more to download from the above link.
4. Another great website is Common Sense Media https://www.commonsensemedia.org/ It offers reviews, age recommendations and advice on a range of popular social networking sites/chatting apps etc. The provide good articles on a weekly basis, which again can keep the conversation going with parents.
5. Parent Guides I completed with Laya Healthcare. These are available to download from Laya's Blog "Thrive" https://www.layahealthcare.ie/thrive/family/ which covers lots of additional topics which may be of interest to parents.
6. Finally, CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) https://www.ceop.police.uk/safety-centre/ offer great resources for students/staff/parents. They divide their resources into categories based on age 8-10 years https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/8_10/ 11-13 years https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/11_13/
They also have a parents section with lots of advice, articles https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/parents/
Feel free to share any or all of the above resources with parents/staff.
I briefly spoke to some teachers about electromagnetic radiation yesterday and I mentioned the organisation PHIRE http://phiremedical.org/ They have some really good and scary research on the effects of early exposure.
I hope the above is of some use and thanks again for a lovely day.
Dr. Maureen Griffin
B.A. M.A. Ph.D
Director MGMS Training Limited
Other sites & useful links
Click here for The Momo Challenge a fact sheet for parents
Click here for information on Selfie Cop and how it works
Click here for a guide to Cyberbullying
Click here for a parent's guide to social networking
Click here for E-safety information for small children
Click here for a parental guide to keeping children safe online
Click here for the Zeeko Internet Safety Guide, a resource to empower children to protect themselves online through education