At Beaconhills College we believe that access to technology is a right, not a privilege, but this comes with a level of responsibility.
Becoming a positive digital citizen is a skill that all Internet users need to embrace. We incorporate this behaviour into our classes and promote students having a clear conversation with their teachers and parents to build a positive online culture.
Whatever the reason, COVID-19 is likely to mean young people spending more time at home, and online. There are a lot of great ways they can use connected devices to learn and play, but there are also risks that you can help them avoid.
eSafety has a wide range of advice for parents and carers covering common online safety issues like managing screen time, cyberbullying, inappropriate content, sending nudes and contact from strangers.
There are a range of issues that parents and students must face as they adjust to this different method of learning:
- Mental and Physical Health
Current circumstances are not just about physical health, there are social and emotional impacts as well. Students may be feeling isolated or anxious, or observing family members in distressed states. Ensure students know that they can still contact teachers and other support people at your school.
Remember it is not healthy to sit at a computer, or use a tablet, for extended periods of time without a break.
- Although the College will ask students to attend their scheduled virtual classes, the lessons are likely to be much shorter than at school and work set to be completed later.
- It is good to encourage your children to enjoy physical exercise and play while at home and to interact with family members.
- Have the chat and set expectations and boundaries
It’s not possible to be at your child’s side every second of the day, so it’s important to talk with them about online safety issues to help develop their critical thinking and ability to make good choices. It’s also good to let them know they can come to you for help if they have any concerns. You may feel they know more about the latest technology than you do, but you have more life experience to guide them.
- Take the opportunity to set some boundaries around when and where they can use devices like tablets, smart TVs and gaming consoles,
- Parental controls
Parental controls can help block your child from accessing specific websites, apps or functions. They can also monitor your child’s use of connected devices and set time limits. But beware! You cannot always rely on them — they should be used in combination with other online safety strategies.
- Be alert – know the signs
Kids who are bored by long periods at home can pick at each other, and that happens online too. So it’s important to keep an eye out for cyberbullying. It can include mean posts, comments and messages, as well as being left out of online group activities like gaming.
- Remember, when they are away from school, kids have less access to their usual support systems, including friends, teachers and counsellors.
Each section of the school has an Acceptable Use Agreement that is phrased in language suitable for each age group. Each agreement is distributed through CareMonkey and for Years 3 to 12, students and a parent are expected to sign the agreement each year. It is worthwhile for parents to discuss and explain the agreement with their child.
Click the heading to see each agreement.
Students work with digital technology every day at Beaconhills College. This may include their personal device, library and classroom computers, interactive whiteboards, and programmable robotics. At all times this is directed by the teacher in charge. This teacher will model to the students the appropriate use of technology, maintaining a focus on educating our students in their curriculum area.
Should a student fail to comply with direct instructions, which support the learning process, restrictions will be placed on the use of the technology for the safety of the student and the other members of the class. These restrictions may extend beyond the individual’s classroom, in consultation with members of the College leadership team.
Cybersmart digital citizenship is about confident and positive engagement with digital technology.
A Cybersmart digital citizen is a person with the skills and knowledge to effectively use digital technologies to participate in society, to communicate with others, and to create and consume digital content (from Cybersmart website).
Cybersmart have produced a Digital Citizens Guide that works on three principals – Engage, Know, Choose. It is a great resource that offers an overview of the resources available from the Cybersmart website.
Beaconhills promotes Digital Citizenship in all students. We work with students who are new to the program, about the responsibilities and consequences that come with being connected to the internet and having a ‘digital voice’. In our Junior and Middle years we teach these skills as part of our eLearning program. The students are encouraged to talk to their parents, teachers and councillors if they have any problems online.
All students have access to a Report Bullying link in the BeaconNet Portal where they can report a bullying incident that has happened to themselves or a friend. This link is always active although the college cannot respond to reports over the weekend, public holidays, school holidays or after 4pm.
While on the College network, students are connected to our wireless points that connect them to the internet via a series of filters. The main system that the College deploys is called Netbox Blue. It is an industry grade web filter that allows for granular filtering of all internet content that is coming into the College.
We start by defining the type of content that we would like to allow the staff and students to view as a ‘duty-of-care’ filter and Netbox Blue will actively seek out sites that fit that description.
From there we are able to block additional websites or allow websites that the teachers need for their program.
An additional filter that is used at the College, via Netbox Blue, and can be done at home on individual iPads and computers, is Google Safe Search. This filter allows the device to sift the information that Google returns when doing a search to find appropriate material. It is a very easy process and Google have a help guide to do it on different devices.
Every student is provided with a College email address. It is usually in the format of email@example.com. This email account is to be used for study related communication only. It is not to be used as a general communication tool.
Each student’s mailbox has a size restriction and once it is full, they cannot send or receive emails until it is cleared out. To clear their inbox they need to visit the Beaconhills Webmail and delete unnecessary emails in your inbox, sent items and junk mail and then empty your deleted items folder. If you need help doing this please contact IT in the Beacon Centre at lunchtime.
Junior School email
Junior School students have an added level of security added to their College email account.
In Years 3 and 4, the students are only able to receive emails from a staff member at Beaconhills College. They are unable to receive emails from external accounts or any other student at the College. This restriction will remain with the student for the two years in Years 3 and 4.
Beaconhills College uses a range of social media platforms to communicate with parents and the general public. But this medium has its own sets of protocols and issues. We have published these set of guidelines to assist parents with College’s use of social media.
Parental Controls on iPads
You can use Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time, also known as parental controls, to block or limit specific apps and features on your child’s iPad. Apple provides an advice page to do this.
However, please be aware that students need to use Safari to access the Internet, and the Mail app for their emails, so allow these restrictions.
Family Sharing makes it easy for up to six people in your family to share iTunes, iBooks, and App Store purchases, an Apple Music family membership, and an iCloud storage plan, without sharing accounts. When the family organiser turns on purchase sharing, you can pay for family purchases with the same credit card and approve kids’ spending right from a parent’s device. Family Sharing also lets you share photos, a family calendar, and more to help keep everyone connected.
eSafety is a national cybersafety and cybersecurity education program managed by the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, as part of the Australian Government’s commitment to cybersafety. The program is specifically designed to meet the needs of its target audiences of children, young people, parents, teachers and library staff.
There are many great resources at the eSafety website.
– A dedicated parents section with guides to assist children online.
– A description of many social media apps and advice for parents if these apps are suitable for your child.
– Age appropriate resources for children – Get Help including videos, games and guides.
eSmart, an initiative of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, helps teachers, librarians and the greater community to best manage cyber risks, bullying and cyber bullying issues so students feel safer and supported.
It is a Framework that sits across the entire community – teachers, students, parents and the library community.
eSmart is a long-term change program designed to educate, track, monitor and prevent bullying and cyber bullying. eSmart Schools and Libraries are tailor-made and designed to effect change in that specific environment.
In their Cyber and Digital Literacy Resources section they provide strategies and resources on a range of online services and apps.
The Victorian Government provide their Bullystoppers website that has a variety of resources for students, parents and schools. Their cybersafety section has some great advice, in text form. It is not as dynamic or interactive like the Cybersmart website, but there are some local links that can be helpful.
School A to Z is provided by the NSW government, similar to the Bullystoppers website.
Common Sense Media is an American organisation that provides the most comprehensive resources in Digital Citizenship and safety.
– Parental guides to movies
– Guides to apps and their ratings
– Advice for parents. (Note: It is a very US centric guide)
– Free iBooks about different aspects of Digital Citizenship.
Parents will often approach teachers and ask how to be find out what their child is doing online. Here are some questions that have been developed by two professors who specialise in cyber bullying prevention in the USA.
These will assist parents to engage in regular ongoing conversation with their child about their online activity so that they can be proactive not reactive.
While Beaconhills College does not recommend any particular third party monitoring app, it is worthwhile identifying a couple of points:
- These types of apps are usually not free and require a monthly subscription.
- The best ones allow for customisations but ensure that there are minimal restrictions during school hours.
- Look for ones that allow lock outs at bedtime, or a time limit in daily use.
Remember: many of these features are available through Apple Screen Time on that latest iOS.