NMS is doing its part to keep our school community safe – offline and online. Our school has now been awarded the silver E-Safety Label by European Schoolnet, an upgrade from the bronze label that we held in the past two years. More info about NMS' Acceptable Use Policy, IT Development Group and other IT-related matters, can be found here.
This year, Primary school students and teachers of year 4, 5 and 6 have been attending internal Online Safety workshops, where (depending on the age group) issues such as password safety, online predators, cyberbullying and proper use of social media have been addressed. The use of Facebook and WhatsApp has been discussed, both the positive and the potentially dangerous aspects. Our students generally have a good understanding of what is (not) appropriate, where teasing stops and bullying starts. Most social media use happens outside school grounds, yet students and teachers agree that issues with WhatsApp class chats also need to be dealt with at school – as this is the only place where we can approach such topics with the entire class.
Talk to your children about these issues, what they know and worry about, but also ask them about the cool stuff – how the Internet and social media are used for learning and entertainment, homework support, creation, coding, what games are being played. Play (or code!) a game together; you may be surprised to see what skills your kids have developed. When gaming doesn't exceed any reasonable limits you set, it can improve hand-eye coordination, reaction speed, strategic thinking skills. Gaming is also often more social than it appears, for instance in multi-player games. Be aware of the fact that games such as Fifa, Minecraft, Sims or even Club Penguin are social media of a kind, as it allows your child to chat with others, including strangers. Therefore it is advisable to approach these issues and to ask younger children to use the Internet in your living room, rather than isolated in their own bedroom.
In the workshops the students learned not to respond when they receive a nasty or inappropriate message (anything that makes them feel uncomfortable) from someone, whether that person is known or anonymous. The best thing is to STOP what you are doing (don't respond), BLOCK (the person who sent the message) and TELL (a trusted adult; for instance a parent, older sibling or teacher). The students also learned about the SMART rules (see poster). The Online Safety workshops will continue until the summer break. A workshop for parents may also be organised this year.