What is the need for online safety

Online safety is paramount.  Being safe online means individuals are protecting themselves and others from online harms and risks which may jeopardies their personal information.  Also leading to unsafe communications or even effect their mental health and wellbeing.​ Operating within an online space is something most of us simply do subconsciously.  But have you ever stopped to consider the potential dangers which exist on the web, especially for our children?​ Online safety is about making sure children understand the dangers in age-appropriate ways means that we can reduce the chances of children being a part of the risks posed by technology.

What impact can screen time have on my child?

  1. Can affect development of the eyes.

So excessive screen time can cause eye fatigue which is eye discomfort, dimness of vison and headaches.

Can make eyes dry and irritated, and when children stare at screens for a long period of time it can cause loss of focus, like when coming in from the dark to the light.

We can help this by, ensuring children sit a distance back from the TV.  Lower brightness settings.  Make sure children our sat in well light rooms not in dark rooms to help with glare.   Have children’s eyes tested regularly.

  1. Can affect a child’s sleep cycle.

Screen time affects a child’s sleep because of light screens emit. Which are the bright lights emitted by TVs, Tablets and Computers.  The bright light increases children’s alertness and can make it difficult to fall asleep. These lights can also affect how long children stay asleep as well as the quality of sleep as in interferes with the release of melatonin.

  1. Can affect a child’s behavior.

So, behavior changes to look out for that could be caused by screen time are:

  • Hyperactivity- the condition of being abnormally or extremely active, which can be brought on by anxiety and excitement and enthusiasm.
  • Inattentiveness- not paying attention meaning that when your child comes away from screen time after being on it for a long period of time can cause children to struggle to focus and concentrate on other tasks.
  • Impulsivity- can be caused by too little sleep & too much screen time, having 9-11 hours’ sleep a day can help reduce impulse behaviors.

What is too much screen time?

World health organization recommends no screen time for babies under 2 and no more than one hour of screen time a day for those aged 2 to 4.

Benefits to screen time and internet use

  • Certain kinds of digital tool can support family interactions-such as using video chat like facetime or skype, allows family members to connect with one another when in-person interactions may not be possible.
  • It’s important to support children’s healthy development through co-viewing and co-playing- children as young as 18months can learn from digital media and learn most through co-viewing or co-playing with an engaged adult. It’s important that we answer questions about the material that’s being viewed.
  • Physical tools and digital tools can promote school readiness- Through looking at school’s virtual tours and school websites to look at photos of the school and their team.
  • Digital tools can support parent and child togetherness- Technology can promote exciting conversations with their parents, about things they have seen and enjoyed and can be a tool for parents to spend time with their child and engage in what is being viewed and watched.

Risks posed by technology

These statistics are for children between the ages of eight and twelve:

  • 60% of children aged eight to twelve our exposed to one or more threats in the virtual world. ​
  • 45% of children aged eight to twelve our likely to become victims of cyber bullying. ​
  • 29% of children aged eight to twelve our exposed to violent or sexual content while using the internet. ​
  • 28% of children aged eight to twelve are subject to threats and cyber-attacks. ​
  • 17% of children aged eight to twelve are likely to meet strangers online, with all the resulting risks. ​
  • 13% of children have a predisposition to disorders related to the use of video games, while 7% are at risk of developing addiction to social network.

With these statistics in mind, its is critical that we teach the children the importance of being safe online from as early ages as possible.

Tips and Tricks on how to stay safe

  • Explore Together- Talk to children about what the internet is and explore it together so you can show them all the great fun and educational things they can do. Reassure them that if they see anything upsetting, they should come and talk to you.
  • Be involved- Encourage them to use devices in the same room as you so you can keep an eye on how they’re using the internet. It can be so easy to click on anything on a tablet, TV or computer that could be not age appropriate. Stay inquisitive about what children our doing online and encourage them to share the enjoyment with you.
  • Put yourself in control- Make sure there is parental controls on your home broadband. These controls keep children from being able to see inappropriate videos and other content, but even with young children its important for them to understand that their personal information is their own and not anybody else’s and if anyone asks for it that they should ask for help from you.
  • Search Safely- If you’re giving your child the freedom to search the internet independently, its important to have your safe search settings our activated on your search engine. There is also search engines specifically for children such as Swiggle.
  • Use Passwords- Keep your devices out of reach so they can only be used with you around and set passwords on all your internet-enabled devices and don’t share them. Then you’ll know when and where your child is accessing the internet.
  • Use age-appropriate sites and apps- Choose safe, fun and educational sites and apps for children, you can check in the app store the age bracket recommended for the app and can look at the app first to check suitability.
  • Set Boundaries- Set boundaries and rules around times of the day allowed to play and access and how long for, and that it needs to be in a room with adults present.

How do we promote online safety at our Nursery?

Within the nursery we aim to keep children, staff, and parents safe online by:​

  • Monitoring children’s screen time to ensure they remain safe online and have access to material that promotes their development. ​
  • We ensure their screen time is within an acceptable level and is integrated within their program of learning.​
  • The Team model safe practice when using technology with children and ensuring all staff abide by an acceptable use policy; instructing staff to use the work IT equipment for matters relating to the children and their education and care​.
  • Talking to children about ‘stranger danger’ and deciding who is a stranger and who is not, comparing people in real life situations to online friends. ​
  • Integrating online safety into nursery daily practice by discussing computer usage ‘rules’ deciding together what is safe and what is not safe to do online. ​
  • Ensuring children are supervised when using internet connected devices.