How parents and teachers can show a united front to keep children safe online

Image attribution: Brad Flickinger under Creative Commons License 

Every parent agonises over that all-important decision of when to give their child a mobile phone. Whether it’s peer pressure, a sign of maturity, or out of peace of mind, every child is different.

So as millions of children headed back to school for the new term, perhaps you were one of the parents who packed them off with a smartphone in their schoolbags.

8 out 10 parents want a minimum age for smartphone ownership

A survey of 1,000 parents by Internet Matters has revealed how 65% of 8-11 year olds own a smartphone. But the issue of what age to give children a smartphone triggered widescale debate in the media, with eight out of 10 parents believing their should be an age minimum on smartphone ownership and most believing this should be 10.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of parents let their children take their phone to school.

Is the use of tech in schools good or bad?

On the anniversary of changes to the National Curriculum in England, which made e-safety a compulsory topic for primary schools, the ‘Back to School’ survey showed parents believe the responsibility lies with them and schools to ensure their kids are safe online.

The jury’s out on the impact of technology in schools, and whether it’s a force for good or a distracting annoyance.

A recent study published by the London School of Economics found that test- scores were boosted by over 6% in schools that had banned phones, with low-achieving and low-income students improving most.

However, when used in the right way, technology also has the potential to transform and engage children in a way that no textbook ever could. Some pioneering schools are already encouraging more use of mobiles and tablets in the classroom.

What is the right balance when it comes to kids and mobile phones?

Now that the majority of teenagers have their own mobile phones, the big question is how do you embrace balance, and not exclude?

Fundamentally, we believe it’s essential that parents support their individual school’s position on technology. And to do that, you have to know the rules. Showing a united front between parent and teacher about the place of technology in the classroom is an essential part of ensuring a consistent and empowering message to children.

Additional reading

Download our Online Safety Guide for some quick tips on how to keep your child safe online

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