5 Ways to Take Back Control of Your Screen Time

5 Ways to Take Back Control of Your Screen Time

Posted: October 16, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

 

How we use screens has changed how we live our lives.

They make our education, work and social activities easier, quicker and slicker.

For a while now, we’ve seen debates about screen time pass in and out of the news cycle. One thing is for certain- too much screen time can impact our health.

You’ve probably even thought about your own screen time, as well as that of children in your care. But is it really that bad?

The truth is, no one is really certain. But some psychologists have expressed concern on the issue citing worrying impacts on brain matter and structure.

What are the effects of screen time?

Multiple studies have shown shrinkage in the parts of our brain that are important for executive functions including: planning, processing, organising, completing tasks and impulse control.

But others say that experts are never going to be able to provide a definitive answer to the question of how much is too much, when it comes to screen time.

There are many factors involved and context is everything. For young people there are positive aspects of screen time, like creating artwork, playing or watching problem solving and educational games/videos. These can all be stimulating for the brain and greatly beneficial for young people and their development.

The Facts on Screen time According to Ofcom (2019):

• 63% of 12-15-year-olds think they achieve ‘a good balance between screen time and doing other things’
• 71% of older children are allowed to take their phones to bed
• 5-15-year olds now spend 20mins more online than they do in front of a TV.
• 35% of Young people are finding it more difficult to moderate their screen time, an increase from 27% last year.

Like all things in life, moderation is key when it comes to screen time. To help you get it right, we’ve put together 5 ways you can support yourself and young people in your care to take back control of their screen time.

1. Take regular breaks

Spending too much time looking at screens can make our eyes dry and strained. It helps if we take a break every 20mins. This only has to be for less than a minute, to let our eyes rest. You should advise young people in your care to take regular breaks and allow their eyes to refocus.

Top Tip: Our eyes use lots of muscles when we focus on things close up. You can rest your eyes by using a simple trick. For 20 seconds focus on something further away-your eyes will thank you.

2. Keep active during the day

Spending long periods using screens in class and at home usually means young people are sitting down. We all know how easy it is for young people to binge watch on Youtube or spend a long time chatting to their friends.

Being active during the day can offset the time they spend sitting down, and (strangely) help them (and you) feel more energetic.

The NHS says young people should be active (meaning slightly out of breath) for at least 60mins each day. This means their heart rate should be raised- as it would be if they were walking quickly.

Top Tip: If they enjoy listening to music while they’re walking, challenge them to quicken up the pace; but make sure they pay attention to their surroundings.

3. Know your limits

You have probably noticed that handy screen time function on some of your personal devices. This is an attempt to make us more ‘screen aware’.

Games can be addictive, and apps are ‘gamified’ to encourage young people to keep using them- but having healthy boundaries and regularly thinking and reflecting on your screen time together has substantial benefits for everyone’s health.

The trick here is deciding when they can use screens, rather than allowing them to get lost in messages and ‘losing time’ to games, apps and social media. It’s important that all responsibilities are taken care of before screen time e.g. homework, chores and family activities.

Top Tip: A simple trick is to agree some time with young people before they use a screen. An example would be telling a young person they can play games for 1hr- some people even set timers to keep track (using a screen, probably) 

4. Screen free times/places

It can help to have designated times and places where phones are out of bounds, this can be during journeys after school, when relatives or family friends are visiting and of course family mealtimes.

Family mealtimes are important for checking in with young people in your care, to help them explore issues, reflect on positive aspects of their day and shared what they have learned at school. But when screens invade dinner time, no one is fully present. Encourage young people in your care to be present and interact socially away from screens. Of course, if a call or text is important, exceptions can be made.

Top Tip: Creating these shared rules with young people will increase their willingness to abide by and respect them

5. Be a role model

Someone once said “Children are great imitators. So, give them something great to imitate” they probably weren’t talking about screen time, but it still applies.

Young people in your care take their lead from us and the examples we set. Remember to be present when you’re talking to children in your care. We can all fall into bad habits of checking our phones during family time but keeping our own screen time in check gives us credibility and bargaining power when setting firm boundaries.

Top Tip: Be mindful of the quieter times where 1-2-1 conversations are possible, these can be the most vital moments in fostering a supportive relationship with young people in your care. 

 

As technology continues to evolve and touch every part of our lives, the age-old advice of ‘everything in moderation’ stands up to how we should think about screen time.

 

Support

  • If you need support as a parent or carer you can contact family lives.
  • If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person you should contact 999 immediately.

 

The Safer Schools partnership is an initiative delivered by Ineqe Safeguarding group together with Zurich Municipal.
To check if you’re a Safer School click here.

 

 

3 Things You Need to Know About ‘Gaming Disorder’

Posted: October 10, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

There is nothing wrong with gaming in moderation, but if you are concerned that a young person in your care has problematic behaviours toward gaming, it’s best to seek support. So far there have been several treatment options identified including therapeutic counselling, medication and/or self-help groups. Healthy habits can support young people to maintain positive gaming behaviours.

WHAT IS GAMING DISORDER?

The NHS has launched a new service that will tackle behaviours associated with ‘gaming disorders’. The new ‘Centre for Internet and Gaming Disorders’ will support young people who are ‘seriously addicted’ to gaming.

This year, gaming disorder was designated as a mental health condition by the World Health Organisation (WHO). They explain it as “pattern of gaming behaviours characterised by impaired control of gaming” and giving priority to gaming over daily activities despite negative consequences.

According to WHO, ‘gaming disorder’ involves patterns of behaviour so severe that they result in a ‘significant impairment’ in education, social and family activities for at least 12 months.

The WHO have offered reassurance that ‘gaming disorder’ will only affect a small proportion of those who play games. Setting positive boundaries around game playing can support young people to develop healthy gaming habits.

Dr. Linda Papadopoulos a Psychologist and Internet Matters Ambassador gives the following advice:

“Put parameters down when it comes to how long they’re allowed to play- don’t allow them to have tech in their rooms after lights out and ensure that they have alternative activities whether they be sports or clubs that make them engage with their peers in the real world- if you are still concerned then seek the help of a professional counsellor.”

It’s important to note that young people with existing mental health needs incl. depression, anxiety, ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be more susceptible to ‘gaming disorder’.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO LOOK OUT FOR?

Symptoms of ‘gaming disorder’ can be:

● Choosing to play games rather than socialise or do activities they previously enjoyed

Lying about how the amount of time spent on gaming

Inability to concentrate or focus on learning or participating in school or sports

● Feeling irritable, impatient and restless without access to games

● Excessive desire to be alone to play games

● Constant tiredness, low mood and an inability to sleep

Headaches, eye strain, neck pain and repetitive strain injury caused by gaming

WHERE CAN I GO FOR HELP?

You may want to speak to your GP in the first instance or a parent’s advice line.

Supports

For confidential parenting and family support you can contact Family Lives on their website or on 0808 800 2222.

If you are a professional with concerns about a young person’s gaming habits you can contact the NSPCC Confidential Child Protection Helpline via email or on 0808 800 5000.

If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person, you should contact the emergency services on 999 (emergency number).

Talking to Young People About Suicide

Posted: October 10, 2019 | admin No Comments

If a young person in your care has an active suicide plan you should take them to your nearest A&E for immediate support.

 

According to Time to Change around 20% of people will experience suicidal feelings in their lifetime.

There are a lot of misconceptions about suicide and understanding them are vital if we are to adequately respond to the issue. Both suicide and self-harm behaviours are increasing among young people.

But it’s worth noting that suicide is not a selfish act, instead, it is a desperate response to cope with extreme emotional distress and pain.

It’s important to remember that there’s a big difference between individuals having a definitive action plan to end their life because they feel they can’t cope versus dealing with the typical challenges life throws at them.

Sometimes young people may appear to overstate their feelings, it’s always important to listen and not dismiss these feelings, seemingly small problems still warrant your attention.

In any case, when responding to a disclosure of suicidal ideation from a young person, it’s helpful to keep your emotions to yourself and process them afterwards.

Many young people will fear intense emotional reactions from caregivers in their life— this may be a barrier to them revealing difficult feelings in the future.

Facts on Suicide from Samaritans:

● Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK
●  In 2018, 759 young people took their own lives in the UK and ROI
●  75% of these deaths are among young males but the suicide rate for young females is at its highest rate on record.
●  Suicide related internet use was found in 26% of deaths for those under 20

‘High intensity’ feelings can leave someone feeling exhausted, particularly if they are recurring however, these feelings are usually transient.

Unfortunately, this is hardly obvious to young people in this mind frame, who may be struggling to think clearly. It can be helpful to highlight that there are supports, other more positive ways to cope and techniques to help them feel better; even though it doesn’t feel or look that way right now.

How to Lead a Conversation on Suicide

LISTEN

Acknowledge the issue, the emotions behind it and how hard the young person is finding things. Resist the temptation to say ‘everything will be fine’- this might make you feel better, but it undermines and can dismiss the feelings of young people in your care. In these moments, focusing on their feelings and thoughts is vital.

For example, avoid saying:

“Sometimes we feel sad, it’s no big deal. It’s all in your head don’t worry”

 

Instead, say:

“I can hear that you’re finding things so hard right now that it’s making you want to end your life. I want you to know you can always come talk to me, I’m here to support you with these difficult feelings”

 

EXPLAIN

The importance of being honest about the issue of suicide cannot be understated. If the issue is hidden and not talked about it can leave children and young people in our care feeling invisible, unheard and immensely vulnerable. Hiding the truth from young people can impact the trust they feel in your relationship. Talking openly about the subject will not make it more likely to happen, it will mean that you are properly able to support the young person and diffuse the crisis.

 

Tips for explaining suicide to young people:

● It’s best to avoid methods, and detailed information on ‘how’ someone might end their life

● It’s better to focus on the pain and suffering, and what a young person could do if they felt very sad or low

● Focus on the fact that someone has ‘died’- ‘by suicide’ because they weren’t thinking clearly due to mental illness.

 

Younger children will respond well to clear language such as:

“This person killed themselves and their body has stopped working. This was because they were very sad and in a lot of pain, they didn’t want to suffer anymore”.

 

ACT

Don’t wait to start the conversation. If a suicide has happened in a young person’s community, or if a celebrity attempts or dies by suicide, you should use this as an opportunity to talk to them about the issue. Don’t be afraid to have the conversation, it’s likely that young people will have lots of thoughts and feelings, which should be explored carefully.

Using open-ended questions will help you explore what they know about the story and allow you to fill in the blanks without revealing too much information that may distress them. Keeping your responses short and simple allows young people in your care to direct the conversation with their questions.

Critically, you should casually explore what a young person would do if they felt isolated, sad and like they wanted to hurt themselves. Check that they know who they could speak to and where they could seek help.

Keep in mind that when a traumatic event is breaking news, the information can come quickly through social media streams. Advising young people to take a break from the internet for a few hours can help them feel less overwhelmed.

Using opportunities such as these as ‘teachable moments’ can greatly empower young people to realise and access the supports around them.

 

Talking Tips:

“I saw on the news that someone died in our area, it’s really sad.”

“What did you hear about what happened to [person]?”

“How do you feel about what happened, is there anything I can do to support you?”

“If you felt sad and low, who could you talk to?”

“I really care about you, and I’m always here for you it means a lot to me that we can be honest with each other about everything.”

 

Signposting to Supports 

 

Support for Young People:

Childline

Young Minds (Information and Advice) 

Young Minds (Crisis Messenger)

 

Support for Parents:  

Family Lives

Young Minds (Parents Helpline)
 

Support for Teachers:

NSPCC Child Protection Helpline

Mental Health Foundation (Mental Health Guide for Teachers)

 

Youth Produced Imagery Seminars 2019

Posted: October 8, 2019 | Safer Schools No Comments

 

Dispelling the ‘Sexting’ Myths Seminar

This autumn, take an in depth look at ‘sexting’ and image based abuse, the impact it has and why we should move away from victim blaming.

This seminar has been developed to equip professionals with a working knowledge of the potential risks that both ‘sexting’ and image based abuse pose to children and young people within an educational and legislative context.

The seminar will include a workshop to explore how educational professionals can manage and respond to the challenges presented by image based abuse.

Event Schedule

09:30 – 10:00 Registration

10:00 – 10:15 Welcome & Introduction to Safer Schools

10:15 – 11:30  Youth Produced Imagery Presentation

11:30 – 11:45 Tea, coffee & Refreshments

11:45 – 13:00 Workshop

13:00 – 13:25 Break & Networking

13:20 – 14:00 The Safer Schools App; How to Launch

 

Are you a Delegate?

Welcome!

Access some free Online Safeguarding resources at our Safeguarding Hub.

Purchase your own SSNAP set here.

Not sure if you’re a safer school? Get in touch with our team and find out!

 

About the Speakers

Bill Woodside, Chief Operating Officer, Ineqe Safeguarding Group

Bill is a former Senior Police Officer with extensive global experience conducting thematic inspections. He holds an Honours Degree in Law, a Masters in Criminal Justice Management and is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.


Roseanna Long, Learning and Development Specialist

An experienced Learning & Development professional, with a background in Interactive Media & a student of Psychotherapeutic Counselling.


Colin Stitt, Safer Schools Team Lead

Colin is a people orientated professional with over 15 years experience and a track record in dedicated service and delivering in the third sector.

 

Resources

Discover your Safer Schools App – Download PDF

Sextortion Printable Leaflet – Download PDF

UKCCIS Guidelines – Sexting in Schools and Colleges – Download PDF

NSPCC – Sexting: Advice for Professionals – Visit Website

IWF: Trends in Online Sexual Exploitation – Download PDF

DFE Guidelines, Keeping Children Safe in Education (2019) – Download PDF

Shattering Lives and Myths: A report on Image-Based Sexual Abuse – Download PDF

Ofcom, Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report (2018) – Download PDF

DFE Guidance, Searching, screening and confiscation (2018) – Download PDF

 

Follow Us For More

Just so you know we’re on Twitter, if you aren’t already make sure to follow and tag us in your posts, you can use and track #OurSaferSchools for updates.

Remember you can always get in touch with us on saferschools@ineqe.com if you have any questions.

Updated Guidance: Keeping Children Safe in Education

Posted: October 7, 2019 | admin No Comments

The Department for Education has updated two paragraphs in the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance, outlining the process for making referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). Updates include links to further guidance on when referrals should be made, dealing with allegations and what information should be provided to DBS when making a referral.

164. The DBS will consider whether to bar the person. Detailed guidance on when to refer to the DBS, and what information must be provided, can be found on GOV.UK.

165. Referrals should be made as soon as possible, and ordinarily on conclusion of an investigation, when an individual is removed from regulated activity. This could include when an individual is suspended, redeployed to work that is not regulated activity, dismissed or when they have resigned. When an allegation is made, an investigation should be carried out to gather enough evidence to establish if it has foundation, and employers should ensure they have sufficient information to meet the referral duty criteria explained in the DBS referral guidance, which can be found on GOV.UK.

Click on the button below for the full guidance.

⚠️ Likee App – New Parental Controls Announced

Posted: October 1, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

Likee App – New Parental Controls Announced

Recently we updated you on a new app called Likee,  you can read that blog here. They have updated their Parental Controls to help you keep the children In your care safer. This new feature will give parents the option to apply controls to the content shared on the app. With its growth and popularity, the platform has developed these new controls to provide a safer positive experience for its users.

The Parental Controls have restrictions on:

• Content – Any content unsuitable for underage children and young people will now be filtered.

• The search feature – enabling parental controls means that users aren’t searchable by others.

• Live broadcasting – This will now be disabled.

• Private messaging – Users won’t be able to send and receive private messages.

How do you enable Parental Controls?

• Open Settings

• Scroll down and tap on Parental Controls

• Tap on ‘Enable Parental Controls’

• You will be prompted to set a password & then confirm that password again.

 

The Parental controls section is protected by a password, you are required to change your password every seven days.

Don’t forget! Check out the Live Streaming section of your Safer Schools App for more help & information.

 

 

5 Ways Young People Can Use Tech To Learn a Language

Posted: September 26, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

 

Technology has revolutionised how we learn and engage with information. In the UK we could always be better when it comes to learning an additional language.

Most of us start learning languages after the age of 11, but many do not continue. The British Council says young people think it’s more difficult to get good grades in languages than other subjects.

According to the British Council:

• 62% of people in the UK can’t speak any other language apart from English.

• 38% of people in the UK speak at least 1 foreign language.

• 28% speak at least two.

• 11% speak three or more.

1. Language Learning Apps

Apps like the popular Duolingo, help users learn languages in a game type interface. With over 300million users worldwide, Duolingo is a proven way to pick up a language as and when you can. The App uses points and levels to encourage you to reach targets and language learning goals, which makes it perfect for young people.

Perhaps the most striking feature of Duolingo is its mixture of verbal, written and listening exercises to improve language proficiency
The platform boasts a mighty 22 languages available for users in a number of levels and proficiencies.

2. Google Translate

Google Translate has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, with the ability to translate audio, text and even documents or photos in real time using augmented reality.

Google translate boasts 100 languages on the platform, so you’re sure to find the language you love.

Even if you or young people in your care aren’t actively learning a new language the Google Translate app is a must have for when they travel. It can even be useful for supporting young people with language homework or revision.

3. The Power of Subtitles

A perfect way to brush up on your language skills is to enable language subtitles on streaming platforms while you’re watching your favourite shows.

There is a growing number of foreign language TV shows which require subtitle or audio changes into English. But by changing the audio or subtitles on English language shows, you can access an all-round masterclass on the most popular languages.

Changing the audio will change the language spoken which is a perfect way for you and young people in your care to get familiar with how the language sounds. You can always change these options when it’s time to pause your learning.

4. Watching The News

If you studied a language before or are currently learning one, a perfect way to keep up with the news while practicing a foreign language is to watch and listen to the news in the language you’re learning. This can be done as a family or along with a young person to encourage learning habits.

In the age of the internet and the global information speedway, news is broadcast live on YouTube, Facebook and other platforms to keep you in the loop.

Subtitles again can be used to make sure you don’t miss any words you or children in your care aren’t familiar with.

5. Become a YouTube Language Sensation

YouTube is jam packed with language learning videos from natives and teachers alike. The beauty of the platform is that it showcases a range of language learning styles to cater to how you learn best.

Many YouTube language channels will also feature food, culture and arts from different countries. This means you get a feel for how to live and speak the language like a true local. It’s also a change for you to share learning with young people in your care. You should review a channel and its content before allowing a young person to watch it.

The Verdict

We’ve all heard that it’s easier to learn a language when we’re younger. But you shouldn’t be put off from learning a new language just by virtue of your age.

Learning a language improves our brain power, memory and makes our minds sharper. It’s a perfect way to keep your brain engaged and healthy. It’s even been found to slow the effects of aging and could even slow dementia in the aging brain.

It’s also a powerful way to connect with young people in our care, by spending time using tech together to learn.

As technology advances even further, the ways and means of learning a new language or improving a rusty one- have never looked better.

Emergency security patch release for Internet Explorer

Posted: September 25, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

 

Microsoft is urging anyone using Internet Explorer versions 9 to 11 to download the latest security patch.

The alert comes in response to a bug found in the Internet Explorer web browser that could give access to hackers.

Microsoft said in a statement that

“An attacker who successfully exploited the vulnerability could gain the same user rights as the current user. [They] could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights.”

Potential hackers could reportedly exploit this vulnerability by creating fake webpages with hidden malware which could highjack the users web browser.

In 2015 Microsoft released a replacement for Internet Explorer called Edge which has better security and overall functionality.

If you are currently using internet explorer, it’s important to action this update as soon as possible. It’s also worth installing a different browser to keep yourself safe online.

If you are worried about the security of your web browsers, consider downloading these alternatives:

Google Chrome: One of the most adapted web browsers, Chrome allows users to feel secure with constant and consistent updates.

Firefox: Offering a variety of security features, such as malware protection and website reports, Firefox is one of the most secure web browsers available.

4 Tips for Teachers, Parents and Carers on GCSE Exam Results Day

Posted: August 22, 2019 | Safer Schools ? No Comments

I failed in some subjects in exams, but my friend passed in all. Now, he is an engineer in Microsoft and I am the owner.

– Bill Gates.

 

Exam results day can be a stressful time for young people and those that care for them. Families operate as emotional units and if a young person is feeling stressed, this can cause a ripple effect onto other family members. It’s natural to feel stressed on behalf of a child in your care. We have put together a short list of tips to help you support young people on results day.

 

1. Take stock of their achievements together

 

Even if their results aren’t what they wanted or expected, take a moment to praise the hard work that went into their exams.

Young people often feel pressure to perform, and disappointing results can have a significant impact on their self-worth. They may fear disappointment or judgement from their support network.

Even if a young person hasn’t done as well as they expected, giving praise and highlighting dedication can help young people focus on the positive behaviours they used to get through exam season. Remind them that no exam result will define their future, there are always opportunities to retake exams.

2. Explore pathways and options together

 

Whether they have achieved the required grades, or missed the mark, this is a perfect time to reassess the next steps they see for themselves. Support them to consider all options, so they can make a considered decision.

Remind them that further education is not the only pathway, there are many vocational or skills-based courses that provide further education and training for their career.

Some people are naturally more suited to academic type courses, and others to more creative and vocational type courses. Remind those in your care that neither is better than the other, they are simply different.

3. Comparing themselves to others

 

Friendship groups are vital to young people, and can influence choices, ideas and aspirations. It can be difficult to support a young person who hasn’t achieved as high as their friends on some exams, and it can be equally difficult supporting a young person who has done well in their exams, when their peers have not.

Young people are likely to share their results on social media, and if a young person is disappointed by their results- spending some time away from social media can help them process their feelings and discourage them from comparing themselves to others.

4. Encourage young people to reach out and practice self-care

Exam results can be stressful and create lots of anxiety for young people. Thinking about the future can be overwhelming, so taking some time to help young people stop, pause and think can help them feel calm and focus on their next steps.

 

Support

  • If a young person in your care needs support, you can remind them about Childline.
  • If you need support as a parent or carer you can contact family lives.
  • If you have concerns about the immediate safety of a young person you should contact 999 immediately.

 

#BePositivelySocial Campaign

Posted: August 8, 2019 | Safer Schools No Comments

Has it been a while since you made someone smile?

When we talk about online safety, it can often focus on how tech can be used for bad instead of good. Our Be Positively Social campaign on our twitter feed has been running this summer.  This campaign focuses on how we can change our behaviour and spread positivity online.

Why not share these in your classrooms and use them as discussion topics as to how pupils can spread their own positivity online?


Don’t filter out your flaws

Filters, whether augmented reality, colour-based or distortion-based, can increase feelings of insecurity. Teaching children and young people body positivity can help counteract these feelings. Download and share the video. 


In a world of…

It’s very easy to forget the “Social” aspect of social media, sometimes all we need to do is send a smile 😊. Download and share the video.


You popped into my head…

If we miss someone, we may be more prone to check up on their social profiles rather than contacting them directly, which can lead to missed connections and feelings of loneliness. Why not send them a message instead? Download and share the video.


Not all heroes wear capes

Teaching responsible online behaviour is vital in the battle for online safety. Educating children and young people on how to report users for inappropriate behaviour is a fundamental tool in that battle. Download and share the image.


Casper isn’t the only friendly ghost.

Snapchat Ghost Mode comes with risks but when used with correct privacy settings, it can be a force for good too! Download and share the image.


Sometimes, sorry is all you need to say. 

This week there’s been a lot of buzz about the Face App, with privacy concerns being raised about where and how the images are stored. Download and share the image.