The Thistle - An E-Newsletter of Scotch College, Perth, Western Australia

From the Head of Senior School

Online Safety

The issue of online safety raised its head again last week as we were made aware of a situation involving many students across several schools. We, as a school, took the approach of informing our parents to allow conversations to take place and assistance to be sought if required.

Students in Years 9 and 10 have again this year heard from Mr Paul Litherland. Paul is one of Australia's leading key note speakers on Internet Awareness and has worked with the College over several years to educate the boys on the challenges of living in an online world. He does not demonise the technology, but aims to inform the students by example of how the technology can be used by people who may not be acting with their best interests at heart. Paul's background in policing and working within the Technology Crime Unit allows him to give compelling accounts of issues that he has dealt with as a Police Officer, not just dealing with the criminals, but with the families of those targeted.

Paul also ran a parent session where he shared his knowledge regarding the challenges of living in an online world with those in attendance. One of the issues Paul identified was the concern of young people reporting incidents which occurred online. That is, the fear that the technology would be removed by parents if it was reported. Please find below a number of facts and tips taken from the website. While it is targeted at 10 to 14 year-old children, much of the information and advice still remains pertinent to older adolescents. I trust these will go some way to both inform you of the facts surrounding these areas and assist with any conversations you wish to have with your son. More information is available on the  website. The 'Parent's guide to online safety' can be found at -

Social media

Fact: On average, children aged 10 to 14 years have two active social media accounts.

  1. Talk regularly with your child about privacy settings on social media. Updating your own privacy settings sets a great example and helps you understand potential safety issues. Be aware of any minimum age requirements.
  2. Keep your ears and eyes open. Other parents and the media can be a great source of information when it comes to the latest or most preferred app.
  3. Let your child know that you are really interested in how they are connecting with friends. They might be more inclined to talk openly about social media if you talk about what others (their friends and peers) are doing online.

Personal information

Fact: 12% of 10 to 14-year-olds share personal information online.

  1. Get your child on side with online privacy by exploring how their personal information can be used now and in the future.
  2. If you have your own social media account, think about the types of photos and information you share. Do you post photos of your child that show details of their school, sporting club or other activities? Take the opportunity to review your own habits and model safe online behaviour.
  3. Get involved - play along with your child to get a feel for how they are managing their online privacy in the gaming world.

Inappropriate content (the nasty stuff! – like violence, offensive or sexually explicit material)

Fact: 9% of 10 to 14-year-olds reported being exposed to inappropriate content.

  1. Be vigilant, especially if your child is prone to taking risks or is emotionally or psychologically vulnerable.
  2. You can use parental controls, filtering software and safe searches (like Google Safe Search) to help block some of the nasty stuff. Remind your child not to open spam email or click on pop-ups.
  3. Keep your child connected to trusted friends and family online and offline and discuss the importance of healthy and respectful relationships.

Contact with strangers

Fact: 36% of 10 to 14-year-olds said they had talked to strangers online.

  1. Help your child understand why it is important to be vigilant about new online 'friends'. Someone who says they are a 14-year-old girl or boy could actually be a 40-year-old man!
  2. Encourage your child to tell you or another trusted adult if they feel uncomfortable or worried about online contact with a stranger - there are tools in social media and in online gaming that can help block people.
  3. Work with your child to save examples of the messages in case you want to follow up with the police. Taking screenshots is easy, use the print screen (PrtScrn) button on your computer or the Shift-Command-4 function on a Mac. You can also use your phone to take a quick photo of their device with the message.

As always, we remain here to assist if any situations arise and please feel welcome to contact either myself or our Pastoral Care team for further advice.

Mr Dean Shadgett
Head of Senior School