Important online safety notice for parents/carers

Dear Parents and carers

We have a duty of care to safeguard all our students and we strive to ensure that you are provided with information to help protect your daughter or son.

Over the last few weeks, many newspapers and online media outlets have reported on an online game called ‘Blue Whale’ which has been claimed to be responsible for a number of teenage deaths in Russia.

The “game” reportedly involves following tasks that steadily escalate and include self-harm, waking at unusual times of the night/early morning and ultimately, for the young person to take their own life.

According to the BBC website on 26th April: there’s no evidence the game has reached the UK, or whether it’s real.

The UK Safer Internet Centre said on 27th April: It is through research and consultation with other colleagues it has come to our attention that the ‘Blue Whale Game’ is an example of a sensationalised fake news story.

Snopes, online fact checking website, have found that although there have been reports of young people committing suicide in Russia over the last six months, of these reported cases none have been found to have a conclusive tie to the game

However, we strongly recommend talking to your child regarding their online activity and being vigilant monitoring their choices.

Taken from the UK Safer Internet website www.saferinternet.org.uk in response to this matter:

The internet is constantly changing, and new issues and online platforms are arising all the time. We would advise parents and carers to have an open and honest conversation with their children. Ask your children about what they’re seeing online, talk through some of the issues that this game has brought to light, such as self-harm and negative influences online. The NSPCC has some great advice for when you need to talk about difficult topics.

It’s important that your children feel that they are able to come and talk to you about any issues they may be having online. Although it may seem difficult to have this conversation, we have some conversation starters that can help you to start a discussion with your family about their time online.

Other things to consider to keep your child safe online are:

  • Age restrictions: Think about the age restrictions on the sites you family use. Common Sense Media and Net Aware are great sites to see what other parents think of the age rating on different platforms so that you can make an informed decision of whether your family should be using them.
  • Privacy setting: Most social networking sites have privacy settings to help you manage the content you share and who you share it with; you can decide if you want your posts to be shared with your online friends and followers only or with the public. You can also decide who can contact you on sites you use within the privacy settings.
  • Block and report: Make sure you child knows that they can block or report any user that makes them feel uncomfortable online. Childnet have some guidance on how to make reports on different websites.

If you are worried about a child: