Internet Safety

Internet Safety


Know the Risks!

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place via technology. Whether on gaming sites, through a mobile device or via a social networking site, the effects can be devastating for the young people involved.

With online technologies accessible 24 hours a day, cyberbullying can be relentless. It can also intrude on spaces that were previously personal, for example at home; it can feel that there is no escape from it.

28% of children have been deliberately targeted, threatened or humiliated by an individual or group through the use of mobile phone or the internet.

If your child is being bullied offer reassurance and support, speak to the school, your child could visit CyberMentors. This is an online counselling service with a difference; the counsellors are also children and young people. This site has proved very popular and offers practical advice – www.cybermentors.org.uk

Tell your child that if they are being bullied to always keep the evidence, Block the bullies and report any bullying content to the website it’s hosted on. If content has been posted, for example a video or image, which is upsetting your child you, should report it to the website, for example, Facebook. Learn how you would report content on sites like Facebook and YouTube; every site is different. Contacting the website is the only way to get the offensive content removed, unless it is illegal. In cases of illegal content, for example indecent images or videos of young people under 18 contact Police Service Scotland.

Inappropriate websites

The Internet is open to anyone to post and create content so sometimes your child may see things they wish they hadn’t, or access sites that are inappropriate for their age.

Inappropriate can mean different things to different people, from swear words to pornographic images or videos, and what is inappropriate for your child will also change as they grow and develop.

There are a range of things online that might upset children and affect what should be a healthy online experience. It’s important to remember that inappropriate content online includes pornographic content, but could also include other content such as race hate, pro eating disorders or gambling sites.
If your child is using the internet, you should discuss the type of things they might see no matter what age they are. The internet is not centrally moderated, but as a parent you can set controls on your child’s internet access in the home.

Parental controls packages can enable you to block access to adult websites, such as pornographic and gambling sites. Setting age appropriate controls on the sites they use and your network can help reduce the risk, but remember no filter is 100% accurate. Contact the provider of your internet package, such as Sky, BT or Talk Talk, the majority of service providers now offer free parental control packages. Make sure you do the same on your child’s phone and all internet enabled devices.

Setting age appropriate controls is important but ensure that you also have an on-going conversation with your child about content online. Ask them to tell you if you if they see anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or upset, so you can help and support them.

Losing control over pictures and video

Pictures and videos can be copied, shared and spread at great speed. What may have started as being posted for a few friends can very quickly end up in the hands of the entire school and beyond. Some young people have posted or sent sexualised pictures of themselves to a boyfriend or girlfriend and found them shared further. Some of the main risks with this type of image being in the hands of someone else include:

• Bullying – young people can be bullied by others about the content of
pictures.

• Distress – knowing that other people they do not know are looking at personal
pictures can be very upsetting.

• Blackmail – if the images end up in the hands of someone with bad intentions,
they may be used to attempt to manipulate the child.

• Reputation – once something is online it is very difficult to remove. Images
can become part of a young person’s ‘digital footprint’ and potentially affect
them in the long-term, such as if someone searches their name as part of a job
interview.

Overuse / addiction

With limitless information, endless games and the ability to escape from the real world, young people’s relationship with the internet can become unhealthy.

This can be a problem when a young person’s online behaviour diverts and distracts them from other activities – this might be school work, seeing their friends or even sleeping and eating.

The amount of time young people spend playing games can become unhealthy. If they are gaming against people around the world, they may want to be involved in activities that take place at unsociable hours and may find it difficult to stop. The fact that other players are real people can put pressure on young people to take part as they don’t want to let their gaming friends down.

Young people can be someone else online. Therefore, if they are unhappy in the real world, they may want to spend more time online.

As a parent or carer, you should be alert to the amount of time they are spending online and aware of the issues that might be causing a dependency.

Grooming

You’ve probably heard of the term ‘grooming’ before. In essence, this is a process used by people with a sexual interest in children to attempt to engage them in sexual acts either over the internet or in person.

Sadly, these people do attempt to make contact with children over the internet; this may be in social networking sites, chatrooms or games. They could be by pretending to be someone else, or showing an interest in them.

It is important that children understand that people like this exist and that they should never do anything online or offline that they are uncomfortable with.

Grooming is a process of manipulating a child to gain control over them; as a parent or carer you should be approachable so that if your child is concerned about something, they know they can talk to you.

Online reputation

Young people are growing up online and may be posting information which in the past would have been written in their secret diary. These thoughts, opinions and activities provide a window to their lives at a time where jobs and responsibility might be far from their minds.

The internet provides permanent records of these high and lows which, if not controlled carefully, may be accessible to future employers, universities or friends.

Young people should think about what they share, where they share it and who they share it with – what seems funny now, may not do in the future.

Viruses, hacking and security

Computers are such an important part of our everyday lives now, so it is important to keep them healthy.

Get Safe Online provide lots of information on the risks posed to your computer’s security and also how you can protect your computer from viruses, hacking and other nasties…! Visit
www.getsafeonline.org
for further information.

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April 28th, 2014