Tips when talking to parents
I was recently asked to give some advice to a school who were holding a parents evening/forum, I thought these may be useful to some of you:
1. Age is not a consideration. Children are using technology in truly innovative ways at younger and younger ages and therefore the risks and issues are applicable to everyone. Clearly the younger children will need to be guided more as they may lack the ability to risk assess.
2. A balanced approach is required between explaining the risks and dangers, and the fun and enjoyment of ICT. I have seen countless parent and school talks given whereby the speaker was trying to do the right thing but concentrated far too much on the dangers. I have witnessed parents react in a knee-jerk fashion and banned their children from PC’s, Xbox, mobile phone etc.
3. ICT is a toolbox of many tools. You and I will use ICT for professional purposes and we will both use a range of tools to fulfil our work requirements. Children and young people use ICT because it is fun. It is fun to play, it is fun to learn with: in many situations it makes the teaching and learning easier, collaborative and more productive. However many adults will shy away at the sheer mention of computers or technology for a variety of reasons: have never used it; don’t ever want to use it; scared of it; were not brought up with it; had a bad experience of it…..etc. Therefore you will need to tailor your forum to take in this broad spectrum of individuals.
4. Esafety is not about ICT in the same way that a bank robbery is not about the getaway car, it is just the mode of transport, the medium for the doing.
5. When you have given your presentation be prepared that some parents may be horrified and will demand to know what you are doing about it in school. Stress how you embed esafety into your school. Esafety is not a subject in its own right: it is not dissimilar to health and safety whereby it affects everything that we do everywhere. Therefore online safety is embedded into every area of the curriculum and school life in general. The children are taught to risk assess, they are taught what is appropriate and what is inappropriate.
6. Parents may be left wondering what they can do at home to help, or to be aware of what their child is doing. It is important to stress that much of esafety is about common sense. There is nothing new about any of the risks and dangers, the internet simply allows for a much larger audience in a number of different ways. Here are the 6 most important tips for parents (in my opinion):
a. Try to understand the technology so you can talk in an informed manner with your child
b. Understand how your children are interacting on the internet, using what – talk to them!
c. Tell children that people may not be who they seem, if not sure ask
d. Talk to children about what personal information is, what they can and cannot give out
e. Learn how to use security settings within I.E., Playstation etc for assurance
f. Most important of all – engage, learn, enjoy, use common sense. If in doubt, seek somebody out!