[Deputy Head of Primary] Keeping Safe on Social: Part 1

This year, Primary grades 3-6 have been working with the Australian based company Safe on Social, educating parents and students in ways to be aware and safe online. This article is the first in a series of two, in which we will outline some up to date and relevant cyber safety information for students of all ages.

The Safe on Social educators ask specific questions of students during their school talks. The answers provide insight into the level of interaction our young people are having online. The following questions are asked to students from years 3 to 12.

  1. Who uses group chats to communicate with their friends? – The majority of the room raises their hand. 
  2. Who sleeps with their device in their room? – at least 80% of the room will raise their hand.
  3. Who has received messages in a group chat after 9pm? – almost the whole room raises their hand.
  4. Who has woken up to more than 200 messages in the group chat? – all of them raise their hands and talk about it amongst themselves, nodding in agreement. There is also the occasional “more like 1000” comment.
  5. Who has attempted to read all of the messages? – the resounding response is constantly “checking to see if I was mentioned.” 
  6. Who has seen bullying or any other kind of inappropriate behaviour in the group chats? – all of them raise their hands. Who reported it? 99% of the hands go down.
  7.  Who has been re-added to a group chat after they have left? Most raise their hands and eye-roll and comment on how annoying it is.
  8. Who gets a little anxious if their friends don’t respond to a message within a couple of minutes? – again, the majority raises their hands.

One particular area of concern for our students is the navigation of Group chats across different social media platforms. Group chats can be an excellent way for many people to participate in an online conversation together. They can also be a place where drama, nasty behaviours, exclusion, and bullying can thrive. The most commonly used group chat apps are WhatsApp, Snap Chat, Instagram, Discord, Messenger, and Facebook Messenger. They can be both helpful and harmful. 

Safe on Social recommends that children in Primary School only use Facebook Messenger for Kids, so parents have some control over what is going on in the group chat. 

Safe on Social has provided information to assist you:

We encourage you to speak with your children about their safety in Group Chats and online. Next week in Part 2, we will share details of Safe on Social’s further recommendations to keep your child safe online.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Donna Botfield | Deputy Head of Primary