Children's Safety on the Internet
A guide for parents, carers and youth workers
Just as we ensure our children are safe on the roads by teaching them the Highway Code, we must also ensure their safety on the Internet Highway by providing rules and guidelines. The Internet and related web technologies provide an amazing array of educational, cultural and entertainment opportunities and it is important that, to protect our children, we do not prevent them from accessing all that the new technologies have to offer. That would be the same as shutting them up in the house all the time for fear of them being run over!
There are ways that we can protect children in our care while still allowing them to benefit from the quality materials available.
Schools and libraries in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council filter all computers that your children use. Filtering is designed to increase Internet safety for everyone. Many Internet server providers have filtering mechanisms supplied. Others can be purchased from computer retailers. No filter is totally secure and it is the responsibility of parents, carers or legal guardians to ensure that children are protected from inappropriate content.
You will need to be aware of their Internet use, what they are doing and what the possible issues are. There is always the possibility that they might access unsuitable websites, whether deliberately or not.
Possible issues of Internet use
- Spending too much time online which can affect schoolwork, sleep or family time
- Viewing pages which may contain unsuitable content (pornographic, racist or violent content.
- Giving personal information e.g. name, school, phone number, email address. In chat rooms or social networking sites such as Bebo, Facebook or MySpace
- Becoming involved in or the victim of bullying or identity theft.
- Arranging to meet an online 'friend' without thinking about consequences and dangers
- Copying too much information from the Internet or buying work from other people to use as their own (older children)
Talk to children in your care about their internet use and issues concerning online safety. Clearly, different issues will arise as a child gets older. Children should be helped to develop an independent capability of self-protection and self-monitoring in all their online activities. Sit down together and devise an agreed internet code.
Use Children’s search engines
There are search engines which claim to link only to child-safe sites. In addition to being safe they generally provide children with ideas for research etc. Beware of trusting them to be 100% effective in screening out unacceptable content.
Keep up with the online world
There are many sites dedicated to children’s online safety. Here are some links to sites that can help you to support any child in your care
- Explore Hector’s world and download a ‘Hector’ safety button
Please note that MTCBC accepts no liability for the display of incorrect information or for any adverse incidents which may arise after linking any sites suggested in this page.
Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)
Most secondary schools and some primary schools in Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council have begun to use a ‘Virtual Learning Environment’ or ‘VLE’. A VLE is a computer-based environment that supports the delivery of web-based online learning. The VLE environment adopted by our schools is called ‘Moodle’. It is envisaged that, in the future, all schools will have a VLE.
The VLE will enable teachers to set work online, and for children to return work online in a safe enclosed environment. There are other exciting features such as quizzes and forums all of which will support pupil learning.
Children who are at home through illness or away from school for any reason will be able to continue their education. Work can be supported through holiday periods and extra projects provided for those pupils who want to extend their learning
Merthyr Tydfil VLE Project
Merthyr Learns, is a virtual learning environment (VLE) using Moodle. The site is designed to be used by all post 16 training and education partners in the County Borough of Merthyr Tydfil. This project is supported by the University of Glamorgan and Merthyr Tydfil College.
As part of the project, teachers, tutors, assessors and lecturers from schools across the authority and Adult Community Education, have created and trialled online learning resources and materials for their students to access to support and enhance their learning. This pilot project which started on the 1 December 2006 is currently ongoing.