Understanding your child’s digital world – July 2017

  • Post category:News

This month’s blog is about e-safety and school transition from Y6 toY7.

Originally featured in the Summer Holiday Special Edition of DITTO magazine for schools, parents and carers – accessible here: http://www.esafety-adviser.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/DITTO-Summer-2017-Special-compressed.pdf

From Y6 to Y7 – thoughts on transition to high school and e-safety

We know that keeping our children safe online, and keeping up to date with changes in technology, apps and even online language, is an ongoing task for parents, carers, teachers and all those who work with children and young people.

This year my monthly blog has covered Fake News, Wikis, the new computing curriculum, children’s use of voice search assistants and the importance of young people having a positive online presence. How children are using and interacting with digital media is fast evolving and this is particularly notable at key transition points in their lives.

One significant time, if not THE most influential time, is during the transition to high school; from Y6 to Y7. As a parent, my youngest is making the transition this summer, and I have reflected on this process with regards to a child’s online and offline world. For most 10 and 11 year olds moving from Y6 to Y7 is a move to a new school, often a distance away, and taking new steps with their independence and freedom offline.

In their offline world, at this age, many children:

 – Start to walk/travel to school on their own or with friends

 – Often use public transport on their own for the first time

 – Are allowed home alone after school (for short periods of time)

 – Have a key to their house

 – Play out unsupervised

 – Attend leisure activities, such as swimming or cinema, without a parent.

Although these examples may not apply to all children, and there may be many more as well, children are generally given more freedom, responsibility and accountability for themselves and their behaviour.

So, what about their online world? Whilst schools are supporting young people during transition days to high school and parents are buying new uniform and kit, it is worth thinking about whether family or organisational e-safety advice needs revisiting during this transitional time.

A change in school is often accompanied by a change in friendship groups, new technologies and different ways of using and relating to that technology.  There are also changes to accessibility and responsibility. This is coupled with the natural anxieties and emotions present at this time (in both children and parents).

According to the Children and Parents Media Use and Attitudes report 2016:

 – Between the ages of 10 and 11 the number of social media profiles doubles – from 23% to 43%.  It rises again – 50% to 74% from 12 to 13 years.

 – By the age of 12, children spend more time online than watching TV.

 – Between the ages of 11 and 12, smartphone ownership rises from 32% to 79%.

 – By the age of 11, the mobile phone is the device children miss the most.

If you are involved in supporting a child making the transition from Y6 to Y7 this summer, bear in mind changes to online and offline freedoms, responsibilities and behaviours that occur at this time. Spend some time in class, at home or at summer holiday clubs revisiting e-safety messages and advice in the context of the ‘new’, being mindful of the interfaces with children’s offline world.

For example, a child may be allowed to play out for the first time or get the bus somewhere – but only if they take their phone? A new school may have a portal system that the child would need access to for preparation information? Use ‘circle time’ to find out what children do when managing less direct supervision.  Is social media a bigger pull?  For children who may not be attending the same high school as their friends, what is the role of social media in sustaining existing friendships?

These are simply some thoughts to stimulate debate and hopefully help everyone manage this transitional time in our digital world.

Lynn Findlay