EWSA recognises that publicity and communication takes place through Social Media and other Online communication tools. This policy describes what social media is, how it may be used by EWSA and how its members should interact with this type of medium to prevent safeguarding and other issues.
Our objectives are:
- to protect all staff, volunteers and members including young people and vulnerable adults involved with our organisation and who make use of technology (such as mobiles phones, games consoles and the internet) while in our care
- to provide staff and volunteers with policy and procedure information regarding online safety and inform them how to respond to incidents
- to ensure our organisation is operating in line with our values and within the law regarding how we behave online
What is social media?
‘Social Media’ refers to the latest generation of interactive online services such as blogs, discussion forums, podcasts and instant messaging.
Social Media includes:
- Social networking sites e.g. Facebook, Instagram
- Micro-blogging services e.g. Twitter Video-sharing services e.g. You Tube, online forms
- Photo-sharing services e.g. Flickr, Snapchat
- Online games and virtual reality e.g. second life
Social media is a dynamic, constantly evolving form of communication that allows people to take part in online communities, generate content and share information with others. Users can now access interactive services across a multitude of services and devices, such as mobile phones, tablets, games consoles and personal computers. Social media services are particularly popular with children and young people, as they offer opportunities to be creative, connect with others all over the world and share interests. However, the use of social media also introduces a range of potential safeguarding risks to young people and vulnerable adults.
Risks and safeguarding issues around social media
As with all emerging technologies there is the potential for misuse. Risks associated with user interactive services include: cyber bullying, grooming and potential abuse by online predators, identity theft and exposure to inappropriate content including self-harm, racism, hate and adult pornography. It is totally appropriate that children should use the Internet – it provides a wonderful resource – and schools have, in general, been very pro-active in educating their pupils about responsible use. Many schools take a very strong line in sanctioning pupils who misuse, bullying or post offensive or obscene comments. EWSA will take a similar stance with their members where unacceptable behaviour is reported.
Most children and young people use the Internet positively but sometimes behave in ways that may place themselves at risk. Some risks do not necessarily arise from the technology itself but result from offline behaviours that are extended into the online world, and vice versa. Potential risks can include, but are not limited to:
- bullying by peers and people they consider ‘friends’
- posting personal information that can identify and locate a child offline
- sexual grooming, luring, exploitation and abuse contact with strangers
- exposure to inappropriate and/or content
- involvement in making or distributing illegal or inappropriate content
- theft of personal information
- exposure to information and interaction with others who encourage self-harm
- exposure to racist or hate material
- encouragement of violent behaviour, such as ‘happy slapping’
- glorifying activities such as drug taking or excessive drinking
- physical harm to young people in making video content, such as enacting and imitating stunts and risk taking activities
- leaving and running away from home as a result of contacts made online.
How can we avoid cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying and abusive postings on websites are a common and unfortunate by product of social networking services and open forums. Clubs should review their safeguarding policies and codes of conduct to ensure they address safeguarding issues and risks around online grooming and cyber bullying. Remember that personal and group disputes can easily overspill from the offline to the online world and vice versa.
How to deal with online bullying?
EWSA has an anti-bullying policy [link here] that applies to all members. EWSA and its member clubs take seriously any allegations of online – or cyber – bullying between members of your club; any concerns raised should be investigated and appropriate action taken to deter or sanction anyone found bullying. All members should be made aware that bullying of any type is unacceptable and a breach of the EWSA Codes of Conduct
Managing our online presence
Our online presence through our website or social media platforms will adhere to the following guidelines:
- all social media accounts will be password-protected, and at least 3 members of the EWSA committee will have access to each account and password
- the account will be monitored by a designated person, who will have been appointed by the club committee
- the designated person managing our on-line presence will seek advice from our designated safeguarding lead to advise on safeguarding requirements
- a designated supervisor will remove inappropriate posts by children, volunteers or staff, explaining why, and informing anyone who may be affected (as well as the parents of any children involved)
- identifying details such as a child’s home address, school name or telephone number shouldn’t be posted on social media platforms
- any posts or correspondence will be consistent with our aims
- we’ll make sure children and young people are aware of who manages our social media accounts and who to contact if they have any concerns about the running of the account
- parents will be asked to give their approval for us to communicate with their children through social media, or by any other means of communication
- parents will need to give permission for photographs or videos of their child to be posted on social media
- all of our accounts and email addresses will be appropriate and fit for purpose
- be aware that it doesn’t matter what device is being used for digital interaction, but that the same safety aspects apply whether it is a computer, mobile phone or game console
What we expect from staff, volunteers and members of all ages
With networking services – as with any websites – always think before you post. Consider any messages, photos, videos or information – do they comply with existing policies? E.g. use of photographs of children. Is the content e.g. photographs and text appropriate to the audience? Always seek young person/parental permission to use the photos of those featured before adding to the sports webpage/profile. Encourage your members – junior and senior – to think too before they post.
- staff/volunteers/members should be aware of this policy and behave in accordance with it
- staff/volunteers/members should seek the advice of the designated safeguarding lead if they have any concerns about the use of the internet or social media
- staff/volunteers/members should communicate any messages they wish to send out to children and young people to the designated person responsible for the organisation’s online presence
- staff/volunteers/members should not ‘friend’ or ‘follow’ children or young people from personal accounts on social media
- staff/volunteers/members should make sure any content posted is accurate and appropriate, as young people may ‘follow’ them on social media
- staff/volunteers/members should not communicate with young people via personal accounts or private messages
- rather than communicating with parents through personal social media accounts, staff/volunteers/members should choose a more formal means of communication, such as face-to-face, in an email or in writing, or use an organisational account, profile or website
- at least one other member of staff/volunteers/members should be copied in to any emails sent to children or young people
- staff/volunteers/members should avoid communicating with children or young people via email outside of normal office hours
- emails should be signed off in a professional manner, avoiding the use of emojis or symbols such as ‘kisses’ (X’s)
- any disclosures of abuse reported through social media should be dealt with in the same way as a face-to-face disclosure, according to our reporting procedures
- smartphone users should respect the private lives of others and not take or distribute pictures of other people if it could invade their privacy
- staff/volunteers/members and young people must not engage in ‘sexting’ or send pictures to anyone that are obscene, indecent or menacing
NSPCC Net Aware www.net-aware.org.uk
Club Matters www.sportenglandclubmatters.com
The CPSU www.cpsu.org.uk