Access to the Internet can take place almost anywhere at any time. It is vital that students, teachers and parents/carers are aware of the risks and know how to use modern technologies appropriately. It is important that students are able to discuss the issues surrounding internet use and what actions to take when something goes wrong. Communication systems such as social networks, blogs, messaging and email have become increasingly important in our daily lives. They often have important significant benefits, but there are also risks that must be considered and evaluated.
There are lots of sites around that allow you to talk to other people on the web. Chat rooms allow users to have real-time conversations and to get instant replies. Online message boards and forums let people post questions or comments and ask other users to give their opinion in their own time.
When using a chat room or posting on a message board you should never give out any personal information, such as an address or phone number. Always use a nickname, so that others can’t look you up and get your details.
You should never arrange to meet up with someone that you’ve been chatting to online. Remember that you can never be sure that they’re telling the truth about their age or their interests and you could be putting yourself in danger.
No matter how long you’ve been chatting, remember that they’re still strangers; you don’t really know them at all.
Social networks are a great way of keeping in touch but you should think carefully before adding someone to your list of online friends or posting a blog entry that could get you into trouble at school, college or work.
- Simple guidelines for using these kind of sites include:
Never post anything you wouldn’t want your parents, teacher or boss to see
- You can never be sure that other users are being truthful about their online identities, so be careful about what information you give out
- Think carefully about the pictures you upload. You should also avoid uploading pictures that identify the school which you/your child attends since this could help someone locate them
- Do not post a phone number or email address
- Adjust account settings so that only approved friends can send instant messages
- Avoid giving too much information in a blog, particularly contact details, partys, etc.
Some websites will require users to fill out a registration form before they can be used. All companies that collect information have to tell their customers how it will be used. Make sure you check the website’s terms and conditions if you want to know how your information will be used.
Some sites allow other companies to use details from their user database for market research purposes. Companies have to give you the chance to tell them if you don’t want your details to be used in this way. This is often done by having a tick box on the online registration page. If you don’t want your information to be used, tick that box before you submit your information.
Many people still don’t like shopping on the internet because they think their bank details are not safe. Luckily, shopping on the web is now just as safe as ordering goods over the telephone, as long as you follow a few common sense rules.
If you do order goods over the internet, make sure that the company you’re buying from uses a secure shopping server. You’ll know if it is a secure site if a padlock icon appears at the bottom of your browser window, or the web address begins with ‘https:’.
If it’s a company that you’ve never heard of before, search their site for any contact numbers and postal addresses. If they’re a respectable company, they won’t mind you giving them a quick call to ask them a few questions. You can also search for any comments or reviews about the company before placing any orders.
Never send your bank or credit card details to anyone in an email. Banks and online stores will never ask you to do this as it is not a secure way of sending information.
If you do receive an official-looking email that asks you to send your financial details, you should never reply as you could become a victim of identity fraud. This kind of activity is known as “phishing” and some banks ask their customers to send them details of these kind of emails.
The comprehensive list of E-Safety web links is aimed at providing information and better awareness to students, teachers and parents/carers of the issues relating to the use of the Internet, mobile phones and other ICT technologies.
- KidsSMART – learn about the internet and being a SMART surfer.
- Anti-bullying Alliance – advice and support whenever you need it.
- DIGIZEN – provides information for educators, parents/carers, and young people. It is used to strengthen their awareness and understanding of what digital citizenship is and encourages users of technology to be and become responsible citizens.
- ConnectSafely – for parents/carers, teens, educators, advocates. Anyone engaged in and interested in the impact of social media and mobile technology.
- BBC guide to using the Internet
- Childnet International – a special parents section
- Digital Parenting – The Digital Parenting website and magazines offer parents information and advice about the latest digital technologies and the kind of challenges children and teenagers might face in their digital world. Expert View articles, ‘How to’ guides and Take Action checklists will help parents to stay up-to-date and feel more confident about getting involved.