St Clement's Primary School is committed to promoting the safe and responsible use of the internet and as such we feel it is our responsibility to raise this particular issue as a concern. Websites such as Facebook offer amazing communication and social connections, however, they are created with their audience in mind and this is specifically over 13 years old. Possible risks for children under 13 using the site may include:
- Facebook use “age targeted” advertising and therefore your child could be exposed to adverts of a sexual or other inappropriate nature.
- Children may accept friend requests from people they don’t know in real life which could increase the risk of inappropriate contact.
- Language, games, groups and content posted or shared on Facebook is not moderated, and therefore can be offensive, illegal or unsuitable for children.
- Photographs shared by users are not moderated and therefore children could be exposed to inappropriate images or even post their own.
- Underage users might be less likely to keep their identities private and lying about their age can expose them to further risks regarding privacy settings and options.
- Facebook could be exploited by bullies, and for other inappropriate contact.
- Facebook cannot, and does not, verify its members therefore it is important to remember that if your child can lie about who they are online, so can anyone else!
We feel it important to point out to parents the risks of underage use of such sites, so you can make an informed decision as to whether to allow your child to have a profile or not. These profiles will have been created by a child, their friends, siblings or even parents. Should you decide to allow your child of any age to have a Facebook profile we strongly advise you to:
- Check their profile is set to private and that only friends can see information that is posted.
- Monitor your child’s use and talk to them about safe and appropriate online behaviour such as not sharing personal information and not posting offensive messages or photos.
- Ask them to install the CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) application from Facebook on their profile. This places a bookmark on their profile to CEOP, and the ‘Report Abuse’ button has been known to deter offenders.
Have a look at the advice for parents/carers from Facebook www.facebook.com/help/?safety=parents
Make sure your child understands the following rules:
- Always keep your profile private.
- Never accept friends you don’t know in real life.
- Never post anything which could reveal your identity.
- Never post anything you wouldn’t want your parents to see.
- Never agree to meet somebody you only know online without telling a trusted adult.
- Always tell someone if you feel threatened or someone upsets you.
We’d recommend that all parents visit the CEOP Think U Know website for more information on keeping your child safe online.