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Liz Walker

Parents & Carers of Children Completing the Umbrella Unit

By COMPASS IQ

The Umbrella Unit is part of COMPASS IQ, a school program to safeguard kids in online & physical environments.

COMPASS IQ
(for ages 4-12) sits within the IQ PROGRAMS.

IQ PROGRAMS are a whole-school educational package designed to equip kids & youth to confidently navigate hypersexualised culture and other 21st century challenges.

Partnering With Your School Community

Parents and carers of children learning the Umbrella Unit are invited to partner with their school community to raise intelligent, online kids. It’s no secret that we are in the midst of a seismic social experiment. Never before have kids been immersed in a social media world (Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, apps, gaming and various other platforms), where they are bombarded daily with hypersexualised pop culture images, ads, adult themed video games, and free, downloadable hardcore porn.

As access to technology widens, young people are constantly internalising messages which can affect their behaviour, expectations, brain and emotional development, confusing their understanding of healthy relationships. With technology at our fingertips, the doorway for exploitive messages swings wide to our young people.

Our children’s online safety and providing them with skills to navigate hypersexualised imagery is of vital importance, which is why a parent/carer/school partnership to address this issue is so integral. Keep reading to discover what your child will learn through the Umbrella Unit, how parents and carers can be prepared in advance, what conversations you can have with your child after each lesson, and ways to block online pornography on devices and in your home.

Umbrella is designed to help students identify and appropriately respond to ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ online content. It develops students’ social and self-awareness when it comes to their online activity, as well as self-management and decision-making skills related to their own new media usage. It does this through the use of contemporary examples and metaphors that develop the students’ ability to self-regulate their online activity. Lesson activities are structured to instil self-awareness in students when it comes to navigating the ubiquitous nature of the new media landscape, including responding in protective ways to harmful and/or pornographic content.

  • Students develop self-awareness regarding their online behaviour
  • Students identify ‘safe’ and ‘unsafe’ online content
  • Students consider the impact of safe and unsafe online activities for their own and others safety and wellbeing
  • Students develop internal senses regarding safe and unsafe online behaviour
  • Students practice forethought and exercise critical thinking when it comes to making ‘in the moment’ decisions

Prior to your child participating in the Umbrella Unit, you may like to prepare yourself to begin or perhaps expand upon, conversations about online safety. For comprehensive learning on how to talk to your child about hypersexualisation and pornography, the Online Learning tab provides information about the Culture Reframed Parents Program and Safe4Kids Parents Information course. We also recommend accessing information found on the Country-specific Support tab.

Terminology

During the Umbrella Unit, new concepts will be discussed. These include learning the difference between safe and unsafe people and platforms online, as well as recognising “creepy naked stuff”, defined as inappropriate online content including, but not limited to, pornography.

Every effort is made within the classroom to use simple language such as “private pictures or private movies” or “creepy naked stuff” rather than “pornography”. Children learn that private pictures or private movies might be images or videos that show people who are naked or show people’s “private” parts, which can sometimes be displayed online. Depending on the individual students within the classroom, it would not be unusual for one or more to have already seen explicit content, or be familiar with and therefore refer to “pornography” or the word “porn”.

Should this occur, Youth Wellbeing Project encourages parents not to be alarmed. There is no evidence to suggest that children would search for pornography after learning about its harms. Conversely, teaching children to recognise early warning signs, that we all have the right to feel safe all the time, and that we can talk with someone about anything, are all protective behaviour strategies to assist children to feel safe.

If you are searching for strategies in how to respond if you discover that your child has been exposed to pornography, please access the COMPOSE YOURSELF! model by Culture Reframed.

Creepy Naked Stuff

Creepy online stuff is an age-appropriate video to help students begin to understand the dangers of the internet. Students are asked to listen carefully to the video and see if they can remember as many things as possible. Some of the points raised in the video include:

  • Bodies are brilliant
  • Underneath our clothes we are naked
  • Clothes stop us getting cold
  • Our clothes cover our nakedness
  • Naked people doing weird/not nice/rough stuff you might find online

During the Umbrella Unit, students are helped to recognise what someone can do if they see something creepy online. They learn why it’s important for us each to have our own “mind umbrella” and to be careful whenever we enter into the online world.

Not for Kids! Children’s Book

An activity within lesson two of the Umbrella Unit is the Not for Kids! children’s book. This exceptional resource offers gentle and insightful guidance and is a must have for parents and professionals to prepare kids under the age of 10 for the inevitable occasion of when they will see explicit imagery. Who better to step them through this than loving and vigilant-caregivers.

Milly loves to explore and learn. One day while using her friend’s phone, she sees images that make her feel sick. Milly was lucky to have a safe adult to help her through this experience and she now teaches kids that some adult behaviours can be harmful for children to see. Milly lets kids know that coming across these images is not their fault and she reminds them to always seek help from an adult if they see things that are not meant for kids eyes.

Parents wishing to read this book with their child prior to their participation in the Umbrella Unit may choose to purchase Not for Kids!

Independent Not for Kids! Book Review

Cath Hakanson empowers parents to talk to their kids about love, sex, relationships and growing up openly and honestly through online education and parent resources. Cath provides and age-by-age guide to sex education books for kids, as well as lots of other great resources. This video by Cath is an independent book review of Not for Kids!

IQ PROGRAMS are pleased to be able to offer suggested discussion topics to help your child share what they learned in the Umbrella Unit with you.

After Lesson 1

In lesson one we discuss what it means to “think ahead” and “be prepared” before going into certain environments.

The environment children explore is a very wet and rainy place. The students are given a choice of three things they might bring – a phone, hat or an umbrella. In order to be best ‘prepared’, we aim to have the students think critically about the environment they are entering, arriving at the decision that an umbrella might be the best choice.

This combines “thinking ahead” with “being prepared.”

You can also encourage this sort of exploration at home. Any opportunities for children to exercise their forward thinking skills will help them to refine their decision making skills.

  • For example, “We’re going to the beach, what should we bring?” (Sunscreen, so we don’t get burnt).
  • You may also wish to discuss with your child examples of where you can and can’t identify the true identity of an online user. For instance, when someone does a live update on social media or posts a YouTube clip, it’s easier to verify the identity of a person. Whereas, someone who only has a profile picture can put anything up and we can’t identify their true identity unless we actually know them face-to-face.
  • Explore scenarios related to news stories or a YouTube channel you enjoy at home. On social media, you can help your child verify the identity of the user by looking for the “tick” mark on their profile.

We explain that some things online may make them feel confused, weird, sick or “yucky” on the inside, and build upon this by explaining classification ratings that help children to identify age appropriate movies or games. They are taught that the internet DOES NOT HAVE classification ratings, which is why it’s important for children to practice using their “mind umbrella”. This lesson provides a perfect opportunity for parents to discuss the types of movies and games we do or don’t allow children to watch or play.

For instance, Grand Theft Auto 5 is M-rated in America and Restricted 18+ in Australia. Common Sense Media report that this game is not for kids as it is brimming with gang violence, nudity, extremely coarse language, and drug and alcohol abuse. Among other troubling themes, women are frequently depicted as sexual objects, with a strip club mini-game allowing players to fondle strippers’ bodies, which are nude from the waist up. Cybersafety experts are alarmed when children as young as six or seven disclose that they are playing this game. Normalising violent themes through games and other “creepy naked stuff” teaches children to minimise the harms. This can sometimes, lead to children expressing these learned behaviours in unsafe or problematic ways.

On the pre-lesson preparation tab, we highlight two resources: the Creepy Naked Stuff video and the Not for Kids! children’s book. Creepy Naked Stuff is utilised in this lesson, helping children to put language around and respond appropriately to the things they may see online that make them feel confused, weird, sick or ‘yucky’ on the inside. In context, both resources help children understand how to respond if they see naked people doing weird/not nice/rough stuff. Children should bring home a helpline tip sheet, introducing them to a community resource that can be part of their safety network.

Lesson one lays the foundation for the following two lessons which highlight the importance of helping children to recognise early warning signs with problematic online content, and why they need to use their “mind umbrella”, look away, talk with someone and train their brain to focus on things that are more helpful and positive.

Lesson Summary

  1. Think ahead
  2. Be prepared
  3. Put up your mind umbrella up before you go online
  4. Verify fake/real profiles by looking for the validation “tick” on online profiles
  5. Identify the classification rating on movies, shows or games

Take home resource: Helpline Tip Sheet

After Lesson 2

The second lesson begins with a review of Creepy Naked Stuff prior to reading the Not for Kids! children’s book. Through the story of Milly, children are taught important safety lessons such as looking away when they see harmful content, talking to someone safe about how it made them feel, and learning that there will always be thoughts and images that swirl around in our mind, but we can take charge of those thoughts.

By the end of lesson two, your child will become familiar with the protective behaviour theme:

“We can talk with someone about anything.”

We encourage students to identify people in their safety network. Your child should be sent home a worksheet for the purpose of parents/carers helping them to identify at least three people (other than parents/carers) who they can identify as a safe person. You may want to reinforce this theme with your child by simply reminding them:

“I want you to know you can always talk to me about anything, even if it feels awful or small.”

Assure them that they won’t be in trouble when they need to share something tricky with you.

We discuss tricky hypothetical situations where your child may be faced with a conflict of interest, and also build their ability to empathise or consider a range of perspectives.

“How might [someone] feel if you did this?”
Or
“How would you feel if [someone] did this?”

Your child also learns about four things their parents or carers can do at home to help keep them safe on YouTube. On the Preventing Access tab of this webpage, we provide guidance on where to find parental controls and how to make simple settings adjustments to YouTube so that your child’s online experience is safer.

  1. Setting up parental controls
  2. Turning off autoplay
  3. Downloading the YouTube kids app from the app store
  4. Reporting inappropriate videos

Ask your child if they would like to use the YouTube Kids app and involve your child in a conversation about how parental controls can help protect them like an “internet umbrella”.

Students revisit the idea of false identities online. You may like to take opportunities to share with your child instances such as this teen pretending to be someone else, highlighting why we can’t always trust the things people show us or who they say they are.

Students also learn about early warning signs. This helps students to learn to become self aware and conscious of “listening to their body”:

  • Yucky/green feeling in the tummy
  • Sweaty palms
  • Racing heartbeat

Lesson Summary

  • You can talk to me about anything/safety network
  • Hypothetical/tricky situations
  • Parental controls setup
  • Recognising false information/identities online
  • Early Warning Signs

Take home resource: Milly & Billy Reflection

After Lesson 3

In the final lesson of the Umbrella Unit, students are reminded of the principles learned in the first two lessons, and are provided with practical things they can do if they happen to see something yucky online, including how to deal with any memories that may upset them.

The Infinity Breathing activity by Karen Young, founder of Hello Sigmund, is a strategy we use to help teach children how to calm their minds. Parents can remind their child and apply this activity at home if they are feeling anxious about something. This also reinforces for children that we all sometimes get stressed, and that we need to take a moment to gather our thoughts and train our brain to calm down.

Students also learn to shatter negative thought patterns with their ShatterBox. Students should bring this resource home.

We learn if we see something yucky we can:

  • Look away
  • Tell someone
  • Train my brain

Students are taught to train their brain by replacing negative thoughts with other positive ones, or by finding a fun activity to distract them (like going out and collecting rocks).

 

Lesson Summary
  • Infinity Breathing
  • Brain training using their ShatterBox

Take home resource: Shatterbox

Parents Program

Kids are just a click away from hypersexualized media and porn. That’s why Youth Wellbeing Project recommend that parents access a complete, best-practice toolkit developed by Culture Reframed, which will help you raise porn-resilient kids. The program for Parents of Tweens is online, free, and accessible. It provides culturally competent, research-driven, age-based educational videos, downloads and resource links for parents.

This program is essential for any parent, and is a wonderful complement for parents whose children are learning through the IQ PROGRAMS. Sign up for free today!

When kids see pornography or become regular viewers, or maybe even engage in self-production of child exploitation material (CEM/child pornography), it is completely normal that parents will experience a huge range of emotions. If the first reaction is anger, it should be directed toward the pornographers – not the kids.

The best reaction is to COMPOSE Yourself! Culture Reframed has developed a model called COMPOSE Yourself!, which helps parents respond effectively when they discover their young person has viewed pornography. The COMPOSE Yourself! model is adaptable to all ages.

Essential Resources

Youth Wellbeing Project has put together an extensive list of website resources, books, videos plus more. ACCESS HERE

Safe4Kids Parents Information Course

Within two short hours, these videos by Holly-ann Martin from Safe4Kids will equip you to:

  • Identify the benefits of child abuse prevention education
  • Communicate to your child the importance of consent and recognising “safe touches” and “unsafe touches”
  • Identify the importance of the need for children to “Risk on Purpose”
  • Explain to your children the names and meaning of their different feelings
  • Help your child to recognise their bodies “early warning signs”

ACCESS HERE

Online Safety Basics

Four basic things to remember about creating a safer experience for children on all online platforms:

  1. There are positives and risks to all online platforms. In regards to safety settings, it’s not a matter of set and forget. Boundaries and regular and open communication with your child are essential.
  2. All new media (smartphones, computers and online platforms) have the potential to be misused. Balance is key. Regular outdoor play, time with friends, engaging in hobbies or sports, and spending quality time with family are important ways to ensure kids’ use of new media doesn’t become problematic or obsessive.
  3. Predators are known to frequent the same platforms that children do, which is why it’s essential that kids learn to develop self-awareness regarding their online behaviour.
  4. Teach kids the basics of internet safety from as young as possible. It’s important that they know to not give away personal information such as phone numbers, age, name, address, etc. and that they tell a parent if anyone asks. The same goes for photos – grooming can start with predators asking for photos of feet “just for fun” and it can quickly progress to requests for naked images. It’s really important that kids know they can talk to their safe adults if this were ever to happen to them – kids want to know that they won’t be blamed or shamed or have their device confiscated.

These tips have been developed with the guidance of Safe on Social Media. Learn more practical strategies here.

Parental Controls and Apps

Alongside education, parental controls and apps are an important part of preventing children from accessing online pornography. Whether your family chooses to implement parental controls or paid filter products, a “set and forget” approach is not the answer. Regardless of what tools you choose, open communication and comprehensive education is essential. This way, your child knows that they can talk to you about anything.

If your family decides to utilise a paid platform to prevent children’s access to online pornography, search online using terms like “internet filters” or “family filters”, and take time to read review sites so that you find a filter that is right for your family. Here are two platforms that parents may like to consider:

Safe Surfer: Complete 24/7 protection – protect all devices connected to your home and your mobile devices.

Meet Circle: Manage content and time online, on any device.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides a comprehensive overview that covers how to use parental controls and other tools to maximise online safety in your home. They suggest that no parental control tool is 100% effective. Helping your child build good online safety habits is just as important. The Office provides advice on how to use parental controls on your home wi-fi network, built into devices, including computersmobile devicesgaming consoles and smart TVs, through third-party software, and in apps and programs, including streaming servicesweb browsers and search engines.

  • Internet Matters has also pulled together a number of guides to give you simple steps to set controls on a range of devices.
  • Google Safety Centre: helps you manage what’s right for your family online.

YouTube Kids

If your child regularly uses YouTube, there are four simple things you can do to make their online experience safer:

  1. Turn off autoplay (when a video is playing, there are two simple options to find this setting – click here for a visual explanation).
  2. When a child is under the age of 13 years it’s best to download Youtube Kids app. If they are using an iPad, it blocks all of the 13+ content. Learn more by accessing the YouTube Kids Parental Guide.
  3. If they are using YouTube on a computer, click on the user avatar so the settings panel appears and scroll to the bottom. Turn on “lock restricted mode on this browser” which will block all the 18+ content. Click here for a visual explanation of how to do this.
  4. Teach your child how to report and flag a video as inappropriate. Click here for a visual explanation of how to do this.

These YouTube tips have been developed with the guidance of Safe on Social Media. Learn more practical strategies here.

Social Media & Mobile Phone Contract

When your child uses digital devices, it’s important to establish clear boundaries & open communication. Youth Wellbeing Project recommends that you access the free Social Media & Mobile Phone Contract by Culture Reframed. In addition, the Parents Program is a great way to be informed of everything related to hypersexualised media and porn, and learning how to speak with your kids to counter these harmful messages.

Click on the relevant country to find country-specific support links.