Fri, Apr

Digital Safety

While the online and digital worlds bring many attractive services, they also open the doors for a number of serious issues, including pornography, bullying, and distraction/obsession. It is most important that staff and parents work closely together to keep students safe and teach them how to navigate the digital world.

School Filter

While students are at school they receive reasonable protection from the school’s web filtering system.

  • Junior School students are restricted to a “white list” of approved sites
  • Middle School students have filtered access to web sites
  • Senior School students have filtered access to web sites

For this reason we ask that parent provided iPads be WiFi only. If you do purchase an iPad that can take a SIM card please remove the card prior to the student coming to school.

For this reason in Middle School students have to turn in their mobile phones (which are not filtered) each day.

The safety this filter provides is real but can never be perfect. The school works constantly to update the filter to allow sites and services required by teachers.

Most social media sites (such as Facebook) are blocked as being distractions during school hours. While sites such as YouTube do contain helpful material YouTube remains blocked for students due to the range of innapropriate material. Teachers are able show YouTube videos in class and alternative sources such as ClickView and Lynda.com are provided.

Student Emails

The email address provided by the school is designed only for student to student and student to teacher use. Emails to Kindergarten to Year 9 student email addresses are blocked if they are from outside the school.

School Programs

Junior School, Middle School, and Senior School all provide additional support for students and parents through programs like the following (different options are chosen in different parts of the school):

  • Digital Citizenship program
  • Acceptable Use policy and signed agreement
  • Online Safety speakers for students and parents
  • Pastoral Care programs

Parents who have concerns about any online or digital safety issue at school or at home are welcome to contact their child’s Home Room or Pastoral Care teacher.

iPad Parent Controls

The school encourages parents to make use of the “Restrictions” available to parents in the iPad operating system.

Note: it is critical that parents record the PIN number when setting restrictions, as the restrictions cannot be removed if the PIN is lost apart from a full “factory reset”.

Here are the top eight settings parents should consider using:

  1. Music, Podcasts, news and iTunes U Explicit language OFF
  2. Movies, TV Shows and Books: allow only suitably rated items
  3. Apps: allow only suitably rated apps
  4. Websites: limit adult content ON
  5. Password: require a password for any access to the iTunes account, and do not give it to younger students
  6. In-app purchase OFF
  7. Don’t Allow Changes to Accounts (but only AFTER the student's school email account and timetable have been added)
  8. Consider NOT allowing apps to be deleted if a child deletes school apps

Please note that it is likely to be a problem for some classes if parents disable access to Safari (the web browser) and the camera. Prep to Year 2 iPads are owned and managed by the school so these settings are already in place.

It is all about Parenting

There is no doubt that digital devices are endlessly fascinating to students but the devices can cause unhappiness and arguments at home. Five key elements to effective parenting in the digital world are…

  1. Active parenting: make decisions, explain them, stick to them
  2. Pay attention: the digital and online world is NOT safe, so students must be monitored
  3. Be a good example: don’t ask students to obey rules you are not prepared to follow…as an example “no phones at the dinner table” must include adults.
  4. Be age appropriate: work out different levels of care and different rules for different age students. Let them know you will negotiate as they get older.
  5. Communicate: work on good communication in order to ensure you do hear about problems when things do get difficult or children make bad calls online.

At various times each school section will offer support and information that can be useful to parents. Parents who are worried about these issues can talk through them with school staff.

Filtering and monitoring at home

There are various ways available for parents to manage and monitor digital devices they provide their children with. Pacific Hills encourages parents to investigate at least some of the options below. What is available in each case will depend on your ISP and phone provider.

  1. ISP level web filtering. Some Internet Service Providers have web filtering options available that can be applied to the connection to your home. This will mean devices connected through your ISP will have some filtering in place. This will not directly affect phones that use the mobile phone network for data. Contact your ISP to discuss what is available.
  2. Phone filtering and monitoring. Some phone service suppliers have specific services for children. As an example Telstra has a service where parents are able to restrict and monitor all activity on a child’s phone. Discuss this option with your phone service provider.
  3. Third party physical devices. There are special devices available which attach to the main internet router in your home but create a separate monitored and filtered wireless network in your home for use by children. The Plugn'Play Hub is one example (https://www.plugnplayhub.com/).
  4. Some home routers include helpful web filter and activity monitoring options. Examples include Netgear Nighthawk and Skydog. Discuss these options with a retailer when next you purchase a router.
  5. There are options available within the Windows operating system and within most browsers to limit access to inappropriate sites. Google specific questions to find out more such as “how to set parent controls in Windows 10”.

Parents do not need to all of these. Enabling one layer of filtering (say with the ISP) PLUS having filtering and monitoring applied to any smartphone owned by a child is a reasonable level of care.

Have a plan for when things go wrong

As sad as it is to contemplate, our children are likely to experience cyber bullying, may well attack another child online, and are likely to be exposed to some form of pornography. Be prepared, read helpful support books and websites and join in with the talks that will be offered by school. The government has a website to provide help: https://www.esafety.gov.au/education-resources/iparent. It is worth checking this site regularly and following links supplied by this site.