How Safe Are You?
Have you ever googled your name, or even your child’s name and seen just what information is out there in the public domain or even asked an acquaintance to look you up and prepare a mini profile on you or your children just from what they can find out about you online ! You may be surprised by just what is out there for them to research from information that you had an inkling was publically available to data, material and statistics that you had no idea that anyone knew except for you, family and a few close friends and all this available without any specialist software at all except the the power of a search engine!
Safer Internet Day
Today is Safer Internet Day – a day specifically dedicated to raising awareness of the power of the internet and the respect that we all need to pay to it particularly when we are posting online and using it in our everyday lives. As parents this extends to helping our children have an awareness of the safety issues surrounding internet usage and the importance of paying attention to their cyber footprint.
Without a doubt parents and carers play a huge part in supporting their children stay safe on line. Previously we have looked at issues online from bullying to posting images online but with the snowballing of social networking in recent years it is becoming harder and harder to stay on track with the wide range of options out there our young people. Taking a few precautions however, goes a long way to protecting them and helping them take on the responsibility to keep themselves safe and out of harm’s way.
Safe Surfing at Home
1. Don’t just rely on an internet service provider’s filtering systems and tools. Inappropriate sites can still be accessed despite these so to protect children more comprehensively set security levels within Internet Explorer and other browsers with this in mind.
2. Position the family computer in a central position in the family home. Computers in bedrooms can hinder internet supervision.
3. Don’t forget about other devices that access the internet such as games consoles, mobile phones, ipods etc. All of these can potentially access inappropriate materials.
4. Help your child to enjoy the wide range of learning opportunities that are available online by devising simple rules to help them stay safe.
Simple Rules to Keep your Child Safe
1. Ask permission to go online and discuss what websites they are going to use first
2. Only use websites that you have chosen together and browsers that are child friendly
3. Only e-mail known contacts
4. Ask permission before opening e-mails from people you don’t know
5. Use nicknames on-line and never divulge your real name
6. Never meet someone you have met on-line without first discussing it with an adult and then only meet in a very public place after serious consideration
7. Never give out personal information – don’t tell someone where you go to school or post pictures in your school uniform
8. Only use a webcam with someone you know
9. Never do anything you don’t want to do and discuss with an adult anything that someone asks you to that makes you unhappy or uncomfortable
10. Tell an adult immediately if you see anything you feel unhappy about.
By going through these rules with your child and encouraging an open dialogue hopefully you can reassure your child that you don’t want to take the internet away from your child but rather help them to enjoy their time on-line in a safe environment. It is also often useful to check out the computer’s history from time to time to make sure that no inappropriate sites are not slipping through the net!
The internet offers exciting opportunities for children and aside the social aspect is a huge resource educationally and for student research. However, we all have a part to play in safeguarding our children online as well as building their awareness of the risks involved and promoting responsible and respectful usage of the internet. Then let us hope that every day will become a safer internet day!