A Mothers Ramblings: Blogger Day at Bletchley Park

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Blogger Day at Bletchley Park

With it being the start of the Half Term holiday for us here at A Mother's Ramblings, I thought it wise to recount back some of the information I learnt at a recent event I went to with the children. Well I say recent, it was during the Summer Holidays, but it's apt for now as if your children are anything like mine then the next week is going to be filled with requests to go on the computer or games consoles and well the event was an eye opener to how safe we all are online.

We spent the day at Bletchley Park, which as you may know is where the Government Code and Cypher School studied and devised methods to enable the Allied forces to decipher the military codes and ciphers that secured German, Japanese, and other Axis nation’s communications. Remember that film Enigma? It's just like that, but with less Kate Winslet and more local people not having a clue what went on there and treating the people that worked there quite badly because they didn't realise they were actually doing some pretty important work.

Big Boy on guard at Bletchley Park

We toured the entire site, which was great because despite living quite close to the park I've only ever been for the Firework displays and a few self tours and so I didn't know that there was an unexploded bomb in the courtyard. The great thing for Top Ender was that she could have her own tour of the park using the iPod Touch Multimedia guide.

Big Boy and Top Ender showing off the Bletchley Park iPod Touch Multimedia guides

We had a good play in the McAfee Cyber Security Exhibition, which highlighted a lot of bad habits I've picked up... I mean I bet most of you could name my sister, my maiden name and the name of my pets, which tend to be the sorts of things that people use as passwords right? Actually I don't and I bet you don't either, but you know the idea I'm getting at and the answer to the question posed in the photograph below is quite scary when you think about it.

What could a stranger find out about you on the internet?

The end of the day saw all the bloggers and children take part in a Safety Workshop and compete to see who could name the most online apps and online logo things, Merry (of Patch of Puddles and Merrily Me fame) and I kinda misunderstood and spent ages doing one sheet but were surprised at how many we did and didn't know. Honestly, there are more dating apps and scary apps for scary people that may want to *see* more of other people than I realised! I live such a sheltered life, but it can't be that sheltered as I did manage to guess most of them correctly... I blame my single friends.

The worry thing was that Top Ender, at only aged 10 had a pretty good knowledge of what all the apps were. Most of them were normal good girl apps, such as Blogger, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Skype, Tumblr and the like. You know the sort of websites and apps that she has on her tablet and phone and sees me use and so of course uses herself, but she surprised me knowing a few more that I didn't recognise. I guess however, that it shouldn't have come as a surprise that she came first in the Children for naming apps and I came first in the Adults... me thinks we might spend a little too much time online!

Top Ender on the iPod Touch Multimedia guide at Bletchley Park

I know that online safety is taught at School, and I know that Daddy is forever telling the children about how to stay safe online too and ensures that our virus scans are done and up to date and he takes care of all the back ups and the like BUT after we had finished for the day and were on our way home the children and I chatted about our online safety and we realised that what we'd been learning the whole day was really important and serious.

Here are some Top Tips for protecting your child online

Speak regularly: 


Speak to your children regularly about the sites that they are using and keep an eye on security settings so you can make a judgement on whether the sites they are viewing are suitable. Research from McAfee and the Anti-Bullying Alliance found that over half of 14-15 year olds are hiding their online activity from their parents, with over a fifth actively deleting their browsing history. If the communication channels are open with your child, they are more likely to speak to you if things may be bothering them.

Educate early and often: 


As soon as your children start using the internet make sure that they understand about how to stay safe online – don’t accept friendship requests from people you don’t know, verify requests if they look to be coming from someone you do know, never agree to a private chat with a stranger and never post your mobile phone number or home address online for all to see.

Be password protected: 


It’s vital that your child understands the value of having secure passwords to any social media accounts that they may have set up. If they learn this discipline early, it will set them up for life! For example, never share your password with anyone (even their friends) and make sure it is something memorable to you, but not something someone could guess easily. Furthermore, encourage your children to change their passwords regularly to keep their accounts safe.

Communication: 


Try and be open and approachable, that way your children will come to you if they have a problem. talk to your kids about how they use their computers and smartphones and ask about any concerns they might have. Be prepared to field any questions they may ask – there are plenty of online resources available to help support you in answering tough and delicate questions.

Block and report: 


Don’t suffer in silence. Research from McAfee and the Anti-Bullying Alliance found that 34 per cent of 14-15 year olds had witnessed cruel behaviour online. If there is anything worrying your child, take measures to block these offenders from their accounts and report them if necessary. Furthermore, it is valuable to save the evidence; your instinct may be to encourage your child to delete upsetting comments, however make sure you save screenshots so you are able to report the culprit if this is necessary.

Do you have anything else to add about keeping safe online?