Head's Blog - Social Media (by Mr. Lewis)

Posted on: 22/03/2019

Let's get straight to the point. Children of primary school age should not be using apps such as Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. If they have these accounts, they have been untruthful about their age and are breaking the terms of use agreement that they have entered into. This is not a good start to their online lives. 

The age restrictions on apps and games are in place for good reason. We have a programme of education on keeping safe online that runs throughout the children's time at St. Helen's College. Our Year 5 children build their own websites on internet safety issues. We constantly remind them about keeping safe and about proper use of the internet but these are young children who are finding out how to interact with others. it is a necessary part of growing up to establish boundaries, fall out with friends and find ways of resolving differences. Even the most pleasant and sensible child will react badly to disputes and differences with their friends. In the playground, they will immediately see the effect of their behaviour and they will have an opportunity to make amends or walk away from the situation. Minor disputes can be kept private and quickly resolved and forgotten. 

The online world is not so forgiving. It is a public place. When a thoughtless comment or inappropriate image is published it is not easily withdrawn and can be rapidly shared with people who were not the intended audience.  We interpret facial expressions, body language and tone of voice very well but the internet does not convey the same subtlety and a comment made in jest can be easily misconstrued. Online disagreements can quickly escalate and comments that are made cannot be easily withdrawn. Whilst apps such as Facetime and Skype provide valuable means of communications when used in a family setting, children's use of unmonitored Whatsapp groups has no such benefits.

Schools can help to educate children but it is our job as parents to set a good example, guide them, set boundaries and monitor their activity.  Whilst our children are finding their way in the real world and making necessary mistakes on the way, I urge you to discuss online etiquette and safety with your children and to remove access to apps and games that have age restrictions that they do not meet.

Net Aware from the NSPCC has a guide to parents on children's use of social media. 

Mr. Lewis