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What is… Zoom? A guide for parents and carers

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What is… Zoom? A guide for parents and carers

Zoom is a service that allows you to virtually meet other people online through video or audio-only calls. You can join these calls via laptops, tablets and mobile phones. The COVID-19 pandemic has meant that ways of connecting online are more important than ever, with Zoom being an increasingly popular option.

One key thing to note, is that users must be at least 16 years old to have a Zoom account, however those without accounts can still join a Zoom call.

There is a free version of the app, but paid alternatives are also available. The free version allows you to have meetings of up to 40 minutes long for 3 or more callers (unlimited duration for 1-on-1 meetings). Free users on the other hand can have group calls with up to 100 participants.

How Zoom works – hosting meetings

To set up a Zoom video call, you will need to create a free Zoom account. You then sign in, either on the Zoom website or on the Zoom app that you can download to your device.

You then select ‘Host a Meeting’, or ‘New Meeting’ if using the app. For someone to join your meeting, they will need the Meeting ID (an 11-digit number) and the Meeting Password. Alternatively, you can send them the URL link for the meeting, which they just need to click.

Joining meetings

To join a Zoom call, you do not need to have a Zoom account or download the app – you simply need to follow the instructions above to join a meeting that someone has set up. You can input the Meeting ID and Password via the website or app, or simply click on the link that you have been sent.

Before letting your child use Zoom:

  • Get to know the safety settings beforehand. You could go through this with your child or set up a call with another adult to test out the different options and settings.
  • Be there to start the call and check the settings. If another parent is hosting the call, ask them to do so as well.
  • Remind your child to come to you straight away if they need help or are worried about anything online. Explain to them that they can end or leave a call if anything upsets them.
  • The child and device should be in earshot just in case. Allowing a child to use headphones might be more convenient if it is a noisy chat, but be aware that you might not know if something has gone wrong.

Additional features

Zoom also provides additional features to enhance your experience. For example, you have the option to share your screen, which allows everyone else in the meeting to see what is on your computer screen. You also have the option to mute your microphone, which can avoid people talking over each other. There is also the option to record your call.

Zoom also has some fun features, such as changing the background image for your video camera,  or reacting to what’s being said with emojis. Callers can also place a raised hand icon next to their name, showing that they would like an opportunity to speak. There is the option of applying a ‘touch up’ filter to your video.

There is a chat function within Zoom which allows users to send a message to either the entire group within the call, or to direct message another user in private.

Privacy and Security

Here are some tips for ensuring that your Zoom meetings are safe and secure:
1) Update the Zoom app regularly. Even if you use the website it will often take you into the app. Zoom are regularly updating and altering their security settings, so it is best to have the latest version.
2) As with any form of online account, make sure that you use a strong and unique password.
3) When you register with Zoom, you will also be given a Personal Meeting ID – you should avoid making this public. Anyone that knows this ID will be able to join any meeting that you host.
4) Remain alert about fake Zoom apps, which can contain malicious files.
5) Be careful about how you share the link to your meeting. This will help prevent ‘Zoombombing’ (unwelcome or unknown participants attempting to access your meeting and potentially sharing harmful content).
6) Zoom has password protection for meetings set as default – again, be careful about how you share these meeting passwords.
7) Zoom also has ‘Waiting Room’ set as default – this means that the host has to approve each participant before they join the call. Make sure you know who it is requesting to attend your meeting.
8) When sharing your screen with other participants, be sure that what you are about to share is appropriate and that you are happy for it to be shared. You can also set it so that only the host can share their screen.

It is also worth knowing that in the latest update of Zoom that the meeting host can now report a participant during a meeting. The host is able to select which participants they would like to report, include any written details, and add attachments. This report is automatically sent to the Zoom Trust and Safety team to evaluate any misuse of the platform and block a user if necessary.

Other things to be aware of

As with any other form of online socialising, the behaviour of the users play a big part in how safe Zoom is. Cyberbullying, giving away personal information, inappropriate images or messages and peer pressure are universal issues that can pose a risk on any service.

Talk to your child about their internet use and take an interest in why and how they are going to use Zoom. You could frame this conversation around our Family Agreement  to help set out boundaries and expectations, but also give them the confidence to talk to you about any issue they come across online, so that you can help.

Top tips for carers and parents

1) Zoom requires users to be aged 16 and over to have an account. If you decide you are happy to let your child host a meeting via your Zoom account who is under this age, avoid doing this via an account that you may be using for work. It might be safer to set up a separate account for this purpose and make sure that you are present for the beginning of the call.

2) Discuss with young people who they will chat with on Zoom. Are there people that you do not want them to talk to? For example, are friends of friends allowed? Set out your expectations before they use it.

3) Discuss when, where, and for how long they will use the app. Agree together on an acceptable time limit and place that they can use it. With the free version of Zoom having a time limit of 40 minutes for more than 3 participants, this could be a natural time limit to stick to. You could also ask that they use it in a shared family space, or in their bedroom with the door open. Try to come to a compromise and remember that young people want their privacy too.

4) Set some ground rules about behaviour on Zoom. Different topics of conversation or images appropriate for different groups, i.e. family, close friends and other acquaintances. Talk together about what things are appropriate before any calls. You may want to discuss using a virtual background if they don’t want to show where they are.

5) Remind your child to speak with you if anything happens on Zoom that upsets them, and that they can end or leave a call if they are uncomfortable with it.

If anything worrying or upsetting happens to your child online, visit our Need Help? page for further advice and ways to make a report.

This blog post was originally posted on the Childnet blog.

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Young people give advice on how to keep well during school closures

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During school closures young people (and adults alike) are having to adapt to changes to their usual day-to-day lives. Most young people are spending more time at home, and more time online. We asked our Digital Champions for their advice for other young people on how to keep well during this period.

The Digital Champions are Digital Leaders from across the country who were successful in applying to be ambassadors of the Digital Leaders Programme, representing the Digital Leader community and supporting the Childnet team.

Below you can read the fantastic and creative ideas the Childnet Digital Champions shared:

Cosima, 14

My top tips for these testing times are – ‌

  • Keep occupied – The Olympics are cancelled, do your own! Create activities for you and your family in your garden or living room! It’s exercise but fun 🙂
  • Watch Netflix, watch cheesy shows to cheer you up! ‌
  • Try not to focus on the bad figures – While there are live tolls of the numbers of cases, there are also live tolls on the recovered cases, try to keep track of that 🙂
  • Download zoom or Houseparty to stay in touch with friends and family – We are so lucky to have the internet and technology during these tough times so make the most of it! Use your phones and iPads to keep in touch with your friends and family! Especially grandparents, they are the ones who are likely to be alone so your video call could really lift both yours and their spirits! ‌
  • Self-care – Do a face mask, buy yourself a nice bit of makeup to make yourself look gorgeous – for you! Get some chocolate on amazon or even a new football, we can’t go out so treat yourself 🙂 ‌
  • Talk to someone if you’re feeling down! If you’re worried or anxious tell a parent or a friend, worries are not one of those things that you want to keep to yourself, let it out and you will feel much better about it!


Bella, 18

I have been setting myself up with a routine daily in terms of what I want to get accomplished. It’s really helped me, because I think as school-oriented people who have been taken out of that environment quite suddenly, we do suffer from not having an element of structure in our lives even when there’s not so much we need to do. The way to do this is not necessarily to plan things out by time but set yourself a couple of goals, if there’s something you particularly want/have wanted to do/learn etc.

I’m finding that learning a language and taking daily classes on Duolingo is something positive I can work towards daily and over a larger span of time. ‌

I would also say sleeping too much is a classic mistake – waking up so that you have a good portion of the day ahead of you is massively important, because as students we’re sort of oriented to a very regular pattern of waking/sleeping and if we disturb that it makes us feel as though there’s less obligation to get things done.

Achievement really helps stave off feeling negative; it’s something positive you can do for yourself and only for yourself, which is something we don’t often get time to do day-to-day.


Jess, 13

My top tips for keeping well during these times are to be aware of the media content you’re consuming, stay in touch and be kind to yourself. ‌ It is of course important to stay up to date with the news and make sure you have a sense of awareness of what is happening in the world, but too much media exposure can do more harm than good. Be aware of the amount of media you’re consuming, by staying up to date, but also not letting your enjoyment online be ruined by constant news and media exposure. ‌

Staying in touch with friends and family can also really help with feeling alone in these uncertain times. I have found myself becoming closer to my friends and more appreciative of spending time with them due to new ways of connecting. Try a video call, or plan something different such as a virtual quiz night! There are lots of fun ways to stay connected online. ‌

And finally, be kind to yourself. Know that it is okay to feel worried and alone during times like these, but also remember that it won’t be like this forever, and it will get better. Please talk to someone you trust if you ever feel as though things are getting too much, because you matter and even though times can be tough, please be kind to yourself.


Thank you to Cosima, Bella and Jess for sharing their fantastic top tips.  We hope these tips help other young people who are spending a lot more time at home.  If your team of Digital Leaders have top tips you would like to share please email [email protected].

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Keeping children happy and safe online during COVID-19

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As UK schools close, or run at a limited capacity as a result of COVID-19, we know that parents and carers are having to manage their child’s use of technology and help them learn remotely. This can feel overwhelming, but we are here to help!

Using the Secondary Digital Leaders training platform at home

Secondary Digital Leaders are able to access our training platform remotely and independently of their teacher. The programme provides a useful learning tool for use at home during this time and Digital Leaders are encouraged to use the additional features on the platform to connect with other Digital Leaders, especially as people find themselves isolated and spending more time online. Educating family members is also a great way to demonstrate the peer-to-peer training aspect of the programme.


Here are lots of other useful resources and tools that you as a parent or carer can use to help ensure your child is safe and happy online.

If you are a school or teacher, make sure that you send this information on to parents and carers in your school community!

Online safety activities you can do from home

As your children spend more time at home and are going to be online more than ever, we’ve pulled together a list of easy-to-use resources. They are broken up into ages and include quick activities, films and plenty more fun ways to engage with your children. From identifying fake news to online bullying – there is plenty for you and your family to use.

We will be adding more content for each age group as time goes on. If there are any particular topics or ways of working you would like to see more of then don’t hesitate to message or tweet us @childnet.

Find out more


Getting advice and guidance if something goes wrong

As young people spend more time online there is also an increase in the chances they will see something online which isn’t intended for them. Whether this is fake news, impersonation, or mean comments, there are lots of places you can go to for help and advice on how to report this behaviour. Together as a family you can also help prepare your children and build their critical thinking skills.

Making a report is a website designed to help you report anything which you believe shouldn’t be online. There’s guidance about how to report different types of content as well as help with the next steps you can take if your report isn’t actioned by the site or service you have made it on.

Speaking to someone

For young people – depending on the age of your child there are a range of places they can go to for help. For younger children they can call Childline for help and support, and for older children The Mix offer free and practical advice.

For parents and carers – The O2 and NSPCC helpline can help you with any questions or concerns you may have about keeping your child safe online. They can provide you with advice and help to troubleshoot any problems your family may be facing.

For educators or professionals – The Professionals Online Safety Helpline will continue to operate Monday to Friday 10:00am – 4:00pm. This helpline can assist with any online safety issues or concerns any professional working with children and young people may have. For help and support, please email [email protected]


Making the most of the internet as a family

Creating a family agreement

family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet. As you have everyone at home, it’s a fantastic way to set boundaries and discuss how you are all going to use technology during this time. Where is tech going to be used in your home? How are you going to share it and what times of the day can different family members have access? It’s also a great way to discuss how to behave online and talk about what happens if something upsets or worries your child.

Having a conversation

As a parent or carer, the best tool to support your child in leading a happy and safe life online is open conversation. Our Parents’ Guide gives advice on how to begin these discussions, how to work together as a family to support your child online, and how to handle difficult conversations or situations.

Topic specific advice for parents and carers

From livestreaming and parental controls, to grooming, our website has advice for parents and carers on a range of topics.


Staying connected with your peers

We are seeing some ingenious ways of people keeping in touch using technology, from virtual PE lessons with The Body Coach on YouTube, to year groups having Skype calls at the time when school breaks would be. There are so many ways that young people can stay connected during this time.

We would love to know how you are all staying connected during these school and work closures. Be sure to share your plans with us on Twitter @childnet. 


This blog post was originally posted on the Childnet website.

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Safer Internet Day 2020 Top Tips and Advice

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The UK Safer Internet Centre has launched top tips and advice pages especially for Safer Internet Day 2020.

These pages contain tips, advice and resources to help young people and their families enjoy technology and the internet together in a safe and positive way. We encourage Digital Leaders to share these top tips for Safer Internet Day 2020.

Top Tips for children and young people

These pages include top tips about staying safe as well as the ways young people can express their identity online and help create an internet where everyone is free to be themselves.

The advice pages for young people are split into three age appropriate sections:

Tops tips for ages 3-7

The top tips for 3-7 year olds centre around being proud to be yourself, the things you can do online, as well as where young people can go if they need help.

Tops tips for ages 7-11

The top tips for 7-11s look at being proud to be different, respecting others and expecting respect yourself, and what they can do if they need help online.

Tops tips for ages 11-18

The top tips for 11-18s look at how young people can embrace and support difference online, as well as the way that young people can use the internet to explore and find out more information.

Tips and advice for parents and carers

The top tips for parents and carers give advice and guidance on how to support children and young people online.

These tips are a great way to ensure that parents and carers are supporting their children and giving them the tools to stay safe and positive online. They highlight ways to have a conversation, take a balanced approach and to make use of the tools available.

There are also accompanying films and resources that parents can use to explore online safety this Safer Internet Day.

Further resources you can use

We have created Education Packs, which are tailored made for 3-7s, 7-11s, 11-14s, 14-18s and parents and carers, along with some guidance for educators. Available in English and Welsh these free packs include lesson plans, posters, presentations, activities and more!

Our Safer Internet Day films have been produced to complement the Safer Internet Day Education Packs. The films act as an extension of the packs and as such aim to be conversation starters around the topic of identity online.

To keep up to date with the latest Safer Internet Day news you can:

We can’t wait to see what Digital Leaders get up to on Safer Internet Day and the creative ways that they celebrate. Let us know what your Digital Leader team get up to for Safer Internet Day 2020 on twitter @ChildnetDL #ChildnetDL.

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Get ready for Safer Internet Day 2020!

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Safer Internet Day 2020 is on the 11th February and there are many ways to get involved! As partners in the UK Safer Internet Centre we have created a load of resources to help you get involved and start planning how you will celebrate now.

We want to make sure that Safer Internet Day 2020 is the biggest yet and reaches more people than ever before with messages of awareness and importance of online safety.  There are many ways for Digital Leaders to take the lead in getting involved in the lead up to Safer Internet Day 2020 and on the day.

What is Safer Internet Day?

Safer Internet Day aims to inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively.  Coordinated in the UK by the UK Safer Internet Centre the celebration sees hundreds of organisations get involved to help promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

In the UK, we choose an annual theme that we think best suits the current landscape of online safety and the issues that young people may face online. This year, we are encouraging young people to explore how they manage their online identity and think about how the internet shapes their view of themselves and others.

We will look at whether the internet allows young people to experiment and express themselves, or if they feel limited in who they can be online, and how offline stereotypes and discrimination are challenged or reinforced online. By opening up conversations around online identity, we aim to inspire young people to support each other in being who they want to be, to celebrate difference, and help work towards creating a truly inclusive internet.

Have you started planning what you will do to celebrate Safer Internet Day 2020?

There are less than three months to go until Safer Internet Day 2020 and it’s the perfect time to start planning what you will do to celebrate and spread awareness of the day in your education setting!

How you can get involved

Brand new educational resources

The UK Safer Internet Centre – official coordinators of the day in the UK – have created a range of new educational resources focusing on the 2020 theme: Free to be me – exploring online identity.

These educational resources include lesson plans, assemblies and more and all focus on the theme of online identity, asking young people to consider whether they and their peers are truly free to be themselves online. These resources are split into age groups and there are many opportunities for Digital Leaders to support in running sessions using these resources.

Register as a supporter

Make sure your school registers as a supporter for Safer Internet Day 2020 and says what you will be doing to celebrate! Together we can make sure that Safer Internet Day 2020 is the biggest yet and reaches more people than ever before!

Share your support for Safer Internet Day on social media today, and on Safer Internet Day

You can help Safer Internet Day to reach even more people by sharing your support for the day on Twitter now!  The official hashtag to use to show your support is #SaferInternetDay. Follow @UK_SIC for updates and social media templates to share closer to the day.

Safer Internet Day 2020 modules on the Digital Leaders platforms

We will soon be releasing Safer Internet Day modules on both the Primary and Secondary Digital Leader platforms. These modules will support Digital Leaders in thinking about how they can take part on the day and engage the pupils in their schools with the topic of online identity. Keep an eye out for these modules appearing on the platforms in the next few weeks. After Safer Internet Day 2020 we will also be asking Digital Leaders to let us know what they did in school for Safer Internet Day and they will earn points and badges for letting us know!

How some Digital Leaders are already involved in the Safer Internet Day campaign

Some of our Digital Leaders feature in films for Safer Internet Day produced by our partner organisation in the UK Safer Internet Centre, SWGfL. The films are tailor made for use with 5-11s, 11-18s, parents and carers, as well as a film exploring the theme. Thank you to the Digital Leaders involved for your valuable contributions and for sharing your thoughts, thank you for your cooperation in the filming also. You can watch these videos on the UK Safer Internet Centre Website and look out for them being shared on social media.

Examples of how Digital Leaders were involved last Safer Internet Day

We were so impressed with the creative ways that Digital Leaders were involved in Safer Internet Day 2019 and can’t wait to see what Digital Leaders do to go even bigger this time around! Take a look at our round up of how Digital Leaders schools spread awareness about internet safety for Safer Internet Day 2019 to be inspired and start thinking about the ways your Digital Leader team could take part in Safer Internet Day 2020.

Let us know what your Digital Leader team have planned for Safer Internet Day and tweet us @Childnet DL #ChildnetDL as well as using #SaferInternetDay on the day.

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Get back to school ready with these top tips for Digital Leaders

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Welcome back to a new school year, we hope you had a great summer break and are eager and inspired to make impact as a Digital Leader in your school and community!

In this blog we have put together some top tips to help Digital Leaders make a great start to the school year (as well as providing some handy information for teachers), helping you to kick off a fantastic year of online safety education in your whole school.


Our back to school top tips:

  1. Make activities and sessions relevant to your audience

Why not get the other pupils in your school to think about some key questions like: What did you do online over the holidays? Have you or any of your friends experienced anything online over the holidays that other pupils or parents would benefit from hearing? Make the activities you run in school engaging and effective by keeping them relevant and up to date!

A great way to start your first team meeting of the new term is to discuss the things you did online over the holidays, as well as what you learnt about life online.

  1. Engage the new pupils at your school

This September your school will have lots of new pupils coming in to year 7 and it is a great opportunity to let them know where they can go for support with questions about online safety. Why not use this as a chance to think about what you have learnt as a Digital Leader, and how you can share this with them?

Remember: you have a really important role which can inspire the new pupils to want to become Digital Leaders too!

  1. Plan your activities for the whole year

The start of the school year is a great opportunity to plan for the whole year ahead, and to make sure that you are having the biggest impact possible in your school throughout the year! Take a look at our online safety calendar to pick out the campaigns that your team would like to involve your school in (link to online safety calendar).

  1. Inspire your peers by becoming a Digital Champion

Exciting news alert: We are recruiting even more Digital Leaders to join our team of Digital Champions! Our Digital Champions are a group of Secondary pupils who are great examples of what it means to be a Digital Leader. They are ambassadors of the programme and act as our youth representative board.

If you are a qualified Digital Leader, would like to support us in creating modules and developing the programme and help us to make sure the programme is reflective of young people’s experiences, then please apply!

Take a look at last year’s Digital Champion profiles and look out for more information about how to apply to be a Digital Champion in the next few weeks!

  1. Get creative

There are so many different ways to share knowledge in your school community and we always love to see how original and creative Digital Leaders can be.

Last year Digital Leaders made t-shirts, hosted Digital Picnics, made films and so much more!

For the new school year we challenge you to be creative in sharing your online safety knowledge and keep us up to date with what you achieve to be featured in our blog and newsletter.

  1. Collaborate with other Digital Leaders across the UK

We encourage you as Digital Leaders to share ideas and work together in your teams (and with your teachers) to maximise your impact!

The ‘Community’ section of the Digital Leaders platforms is also a great space to share your ideas and top tips, or to get advice from other Digital Leaders. As the new term starts make sure you keep an eye out for our ‘Prize Posts’, these are new Community posts from the Childnet Digital Leaders Team where you can get some great rewards if your share your opinions on topics and questions set by the Childnet Digital Leaders Team.

  1. Keep up to date

Stay up to date with what is happening in the Digital Leaders community. We will now be sending our monthly community newsletter to Secondary Digital Leaders as well as Digital Leader teachers. We love to keep you updated and share the accomplishments of Digital Leaders!

Information for Group Leaders

Let us know if your Digital Leaders have their own top tips or want to share what they have planned for the year ahead! Tweet us @childnetDL or email [email protected].

We can’t wait for our next Digital Leaders Regional Event on 25th November which is taking place in Cardiff and is an opportunity for Digital Leaders across the region to collaborate with each other. Get in touch at [email protected]  if your Digital Leader team would like to attend the event.

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