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Friday 4th December 2020

Mr Marks, the Deputy Head Teacher, writes...

Dear Parents and Carers,

We have reached December and the weather has definitely changed! I am now having to wear my big winter coat and all the extras to keep warm when I’m standing at the gate but welcoming in all the smiley, happy children each morning makes it worthwhile!

The Orton Wistow Primary School Christmas Story Advent has begun and the first few stories have had lots of views. A new one will go live each day throughout December, all the way up to Christmas Eve. There is definitely a Christmassy feeling starting to spread across the school and we are all looking forward to some of the other events lined up over the next couple of weeks.

My assembly this week was an online safety assembly as all the children this week have been taking part in online safety lessons in class. My focus was on age ratings attached to apps and games. I shared some popular social media app images with the children, asking them to spot the odd one out. The answer was WhatsApp as it has an age rating of sixteen compared to all the others (TikTok, YouTube, Snapchat, House Party) that have an age rating of thirteen. We also looked at PEGI ratings and the symbols that can be found on the back of games, letting the user know why it has been given a 3, 7, 12, 16 or 18 rating.

I wanted the children to understand that there are reasons for these ratings such as (for apps):

  • Private conversations can happen on many of these sites.
  • Some App versions of these sites use the location of your phone.
  • Information shared can easily be copied and spread.
  • Chatrooms and forums are a way for strangers to talk to children as they are often unmoderated.
  • Chatrooms and forums can contain a lot of inappropriate language and content, such as pictures or videos.

And for games, there may be included:

  • Violence and fighting
  • Opportunities to connect with other players (including strangers)
  • Inappropriate language
  • Monsters/creatures/scary characters or scenes
  • Discrimination

We watched a short cartoon about how age ratings are applied to games because I also wanted the children to see that it is a process that all new games and apps go through and it isn’t just a killjoy wanting to stop everyone’s fun! The main reason for age ratings is recognising that younger children don’t always have the right experience and tools to use these apps safely and may not necessarily know how to handle a situation that worries them.

I always talk very positively about the Internet and the great things that being online can provide for children, including; it is a way to play games with friends, keep in touch with family and help with their education. I finished my assembly by looking at ‘Think!’ This is an acronym for how to keep posts online safe and friendly:

T – Is it True?

H – Is it Helpful?

I – Is it Inspiring?

N – Is it Necessary?

K – Is it Kind?

If children are going to use games and apps that allow them to connect with others, we would all want them to THINK about these things before they post.

It would be great if you could talk to your children about this over the weekend, reinforcing the same messages as we are giving them at school.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Colin Marks

Deputy Head Teacher



Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash