So, the last time around we finished with a little quiz to get you thinking about some of the issues to do with internet safety. As you enjoy your aperitif today, let’s take a look at the answers and see how you got on.
Q1. When you log on to the Internet, you always use some kind of alias or nickname
A1. It’s always a good idea to use a nickname when you log on to the Internet. Makes it more difficult for troublesome people to identify you. You ever thought about not using your real name?
Q2.The name of your computer or workstation is always your actual name
A2. Not at all, when you get a new computer, it is the user who tends to use their own names to create the computer’s identity. There is absolutely no reason at all for your personal computer to have your real name, making it easier for identity hackers to find out who and where you are. Your personal information then becomes more at risk.
Q3. When you shop online, you always check the security of the website before you enter personal and credit card information
A3. You should always check that the site you are shopping on is secure. One way is to check the bottom corner of your browser’s window to see if a closed padlock is visible. Other browser versions may have the padlock near the browser’s address window. The VeriSign logo is also helpful in identifying online stores that have secure shopping.
Q4. When your children surf on the Internet you have a filter in place to protect them from potential predators
A.4 Purchasing an Internet filter is a cheap and effective way to protect your children while they are surfing online. Many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) also offer this as part of a family bundle that can be installed at any time on your computer. Filters work by checking for sites that have been reported as inappropriate as well as scanning for inappropriate keywords and also for pornography.
Q5. It is OK to give your credit card information in an e-mail if the store you were shopping at online asks for it again
A5. No, it’s not. If you ever receive an e-mail from a store you recently shopped at online requesting your credit card information again, ignore it. Secure shopping sites do not provide the merchant with your complete credit card number in order to protect you. If someone asks you for this information they are phishing, it might not even be the shop where you made your purchase.
Q6. It is all right to give your name, address and birth date when registering to use a Web site online
A6. No, it is never a good idea to give out your birth date on the Internet. Most websites request this as an option. Protect yourself from identity thieves and always ignore this request.
Q7. When you use chat rooms, it is OK to give private information as long as it is within a private chat room.
A7. Even when you’re in private chat rooms you should never give out personal or private information. This is another area where we’ve simply developed bad habits. You should protect yourself by cultivating secrecy in the virtual world.
Q8. It is OK to give out your Social Security number when you are on the Internet. Everyone who uses the Internet has access to it anyway.
A8. Don’t assume that everyone has access to personal identification information. It is possible to obtain this information, but very few people really know how to access it, generally only those who need to. Your Social Security number is part of your personal identity and private to you, just like all your other personal information
Q9. Blogging is a good way to voice my opinion and I don’t have to use my real name
A9. Blogging is a good way for people to express ideas and opinions, but difficult to keep your identity is a secret. Bloggers usually have to register in order to post comments and blog and there are many ways to track down bloggers and find out who they really are. If you want your cyber footprint to be totally secret, then blogging is not going to help you. It’s good to optimise privacy, but remember it is not always possible.
Q10. It is OK to post family pictures on the Internet so friends and family can view them.
A10. Posting pictures on the Internet is a great way to share photos with friends and family, it is also a good way for predators to identify potential victims, especially true paedophiles. It’s a difficult one as most people now almost automatically post their pictures on social media. I would just recommend the rule that you post as few pictures of young children as possible and when posting pictures of your children especially, always make sure they are fully clothed.
I hope you enjoyed doing the quiz and that you will think about the answers and putting any good habits into practice where you feel it’s necessary. Quizzes are always a good way to open up discussion with your children about internet safety. It’s a good starting point if you want to give it a try. Here is a good link where you can find a really neat quiz to get you started.
Today’s blog is really about how to get started with interacting with your children so you can introduce them to e-safety in an nonthreatening way. We must always remember that by and large, internet safety is an imposition on young people. It is not something they want or necessarily see any need for. They have grown up with all this technology and don’t really see much wrong with it. And anyway, things that happen only happen to other people, right? Wrong. My own thirteen year old nephew was on the way to meet a “friend” he met online when his mother found out in the nick of time. It can happen to anyone, we’re all vulnerable, each and every single child is doubly vulnerable.
First, a little bit of advice. Trust is the key, trust between you and your child actually helps keep your child safe online. You need to have calm, open conversations about internet use and try to show your child you trust them to be responsible online. When your child feels trusted, the more likely they are to talk to you about what they’re doing online and importantly, tell you about any worrying online content and contacts or anything at all that goes wrong online. Without trust, they’re not going to share.
Be weary of using surveillance apps that allow you to secretly monitor your child’s online activity. Nine times out of ten they will find out, because they are online experts, they know more about it than you do. Using these apps will send out the message that you don’t trust them. First, you need to talk to them. A good way to begin open conversation is to talk openly about why you use the internet and how helpful it is to you. If you share with them, it becomes easier for them to share with you.
As we finish our hors d’oeuvre and get ready to chomp our way through the main course, remember the key words here are TALK and TRUST. Without either it is almost impossible to win your children’s hearts and minds over the thorny problem of internet safety.
So I have explained the value of talking to your children and letting them know that you trust them the technology you have given them safely, rather than trying to use all the variety of surveillance at your disposal to keep track of them. There are two major strands of thinking when it comes to internet safety, the first that you can lock-down and monitor everything your children do online and secondly, that you should educate them and do everything you can to make very sure they understand the need to be safe, and are able to make the right choices and take the necessary steps to stay safe.
Lock-down basically means using the controls that restrict what they can or can’t do on the various systems in the home. So basically you can lock down desktops, laptops, cell phones, tablets games consoles etc, so that they can perform only the operations that you allow. In such cases, the device may be said to be “locked down.” We will talk in a later post about some the lock-down controls available to help you keep your child safe online and while I think it is important to know what is available and not be afraid to use them at the right time, yet to me this is a bit like locking your child in their room when at home, and following them around in secret every time they leave the home. This is no way to build a relationship with your child, so no prizes then for guessing that I much prefer and would recommend you take the time to work with your child on the safety issues concerning use of technology and their online presence.
The question then is, how can you teach your children to use the internet safely? It’s a question that I’ve thought about a lot, as a father who brought two children through those hazy beginning days of new technology, a teacher charged with keeping young minds focused on task when in fact temptation is there all the time right in their faces, and as a professional working in the field of internet safety for a good number of years.
Your child knows the internet as a magical virtual space able to provide entertainment, socialise with friends and distant people, do research and able to answer the most obscure questions imaginable. But what do they know about viruses, bugs and online privacy, cookies, phishing, social network etiquette, grooming, predators and paedophiles, along with all the other internet safety and security issues that exist in every surf ride across that magical WWW.
If you are the parent of a young child then it is your job to teach them about all this now and in the future, as technology evolves and develops very quickly. You need to start discussing online safety at an early age, in fact as soon as your child receives their first technological device, usually some kind of game or tablet.
“Tip for the day”
As a top tip, I recommend that you don’t give your child any device or personal access to the internet until they have shared your own experience with you and you have already begun talking to them informally about the need for safety. This can be as early as when they’re still sitting on your lap watching you engage in your virtual space.
Parents often find it difficult to talk to youngsters about things they may not necessarily want to hear, but the younger you begin, the more receptive they are likely to be. By the time they reach Primary and then Secondary age, they should be familiar with you talking to them about key things in their life, one of which is internet safety. As we move on to our dessert course, for those of you with children at primary school and or early secondary, I want to introduce you to a couple of resources I have developed to help you open that all important conversation with your child.
As a father of a daughter and a son who have grown up in a world of books in the midst of the emerging new technology all around them, I have always believed that by reading with your child, even after he or she can read on their own, and talking about the books you share together, you send a signal not just that reading is important but even more important, that you care about them and are interested in how they feel and what they think. Like any conversation, talking about books can happen anywhere and at any time — in the car, at the bus stop, over dinner, wherever. Books can make a strong impression on children, leading to strong feelings about the story and its subject.
This then is a good method to approach the subject of internet safety. In keeping with this, I have written two books on the subject, fiction so that they can learn through storytelling and engaging in an exciting adventure story. The first, “e-Kidz in Cyberspace”, is a picture book for primary school children in the age band 6 – 9. The second is a novel, “e-Kidz Mission to Cyberspace” for top Primary and early Secondary, age band 10 – 13. Both these books come with supplementary resources, neatly packaged in two additional books, “The Children’s Activity Book” and “The Parents and Teachers Handbook”. These additional resources are packed full of engaging activities and discussion topics from the storybooks, together with tips, advice and information that really encourage children and adults to share and explore the world of internet safety together in a non-threatening way.
I plan to make these resources available for purchase right here on my blog-page at isafecafe.com in the coming weeks, at the very latest in time for the Christmas shopping as they would obviously make great Christmas presents. I‘d also like to make schools and teachers aware these are great curriculum resources both as a support to the e-safety curriculum and in terms of general class readers.
Coffee time everyone, what will yours be, black, with milk, a frothy Cappuccino, an Irish with a drop of the hard stuff? That’s always my choice, but take your pick and enjoy. Meanwhile here’s a little help in starting discussion going with your child, using a book they’re currently reading. Or why not read one together? Try this out using the Top Ten Tips and imagine how this could help you open up discussion on Internet Safety by reading the e-Kidz in Cyberspace adventure stories.
Top Ten Tips for book discussion
- If you could be friends with any character in the book, who would it be and why?
- What was the most exciting part of the book?
- What surprised you most about the story? Why was it surprising?
- What do you think the saddest part of the story was? Why?
- Is there anything in this story that is similar to something that has happened in your life? What was it and how is it similar?
- What would you do in a situation similar to that faced by a character in the story?
- What part of the story made you think it would end the way it did?
- How would you change the book’s ending if you could re-write it?
- How is this book like one you read in the past? Discuss how they are alike and different.
- Was it a good book, did you learn anything, what did you learn, etc