Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Always Use the Green Cross Code

I know, I know, I haven't done my taggy things yet, I will, I promise...
It's just I've read some news that I feel rather passionately about.
Now, I've started to Twitter (in more ways than one I'm sure) and have noticed one or two rather raunchy types following me.
I couldn't understand why and then I clicked (no pun intended), I have the word 'party' in my profile.... besides wondering whether I'll be getting interesting party bag orders in the near future, it just shows how easily a few innocent phrases online can be misconstrued and potentially get you involved with people you'd really rather not.
May I say here and now ...I do not 'party'!! No more of the 3> messages please!

But, getting back to my point, teenagers follow trends and want to be liked and accepted and have tons of friends. Fitting in is what it's all about because if you don't, life can be hell. I have recently heard of a few cases of vile and persistant bullying and it can go beyond the playground. These teenagers are then going to seek some solace in finding friends elsewhere, ones they can talk to, be heard and understood..the internet.
Now I guess I'm breaking all my rules because I Blog, and this was mentioned when my teenager wanted to use social networking sites.
'Mum, you write to people you don't go and meet them!! What's the difference?'
The difference is I have 27 years more experience, I have that gut feeling that wasn't there when I was younger, I'm a Mother and I see things in the world that frighten me and have to do what I think is right to keep my children safe (and hopefully get it right).
Thankfully her school has banned Bebo, and for my daughter real friends and writing a novel is her priority, but sadly I have seen some of her school mates Facebook pics and they just give the wrong impression. At 15 they want to have friends, look attractive and get their first boyfriend, they don't believe there are paedophiles on these sites.
Lets face it, when you were a teenager did you think you were so much more streetwise than your parents?

Contact lists on sites talk about ’friends’, but social networking sites stretch the traditional meaning of ‘friends’ to mean anyone with whom a user has an online connection. Therefore the term can include people who the user has never actually met or spoken to...and these are the exciting ones, and potentially the most dangerous.

I think teaching interent safety is as important as teaching your children to cross the road, have good manners and not speak to strangers.....

Here's some new research from McAfee, the internet security company, which surveyed 1,000 mums and dads across the UK about their approach to online safety for their kids.

The findings also highlight a clear call to action for parents to open up communications with their children about online safety and use:

· Only a fifth (19%) of parents regularly talk to their children about online safety and one parent in 10 has never raised the subject of security

· Almost half (46%) of parents aren’t aware that their children have any online profiles, and a third don’t think they use any form of online communication

· Yet reports show that this is not the case


· Switch on security controls – Get to know what protection your anti-virus software or security suite provides. Activating parental controls and setting the right level of security is the first step you should take to create a safer surfing environment for your children.

· Careful PC placement – Put the family PC in a communal area (such as the living room or kitchen) with the screen facing the room as this will allow you to more easily see how your children use the Internet.

· Open up discussions and hold regular joint Internet sessions with your children - Being online is no different than being outside; you always want to know where your children are and become familiar with the places they visit. Ask your child about their online friends, in the same way as you would about their school and neighbourhood friends. Encourage your children to surf with you so that they can talk you through the different tools they use and their favourite websites. This will encourage a joint learning experience with the child teaching parents more about Internet tools and the parent offering the adult point of view.

· Actively educate yourself – Use the Internet to see what’s out there; join some social networks yourself (and perhaps add your children as friends) to see how the new tools work to better understand what the potential risks could be.

· Work as a team to set boundaries – Discuss with your child exactly what is safe and unsafe online behaviour regarding the kind of websites they visit, the social networks they use and the chat rooms they visit. Make sure you talk with children specifically about what is and is not appropriate behaviour online.

· Make sure your children understand basic rules for using social networks – They should guard their passwords and never post personally identifying information or inappropriate photos. Blogs and social networking sites offer privacy tools that can be turned on to restrict potentially dangerous users. The sites often automatically provide these protective tools to children under 15 years old. Children should share information only with people they know from the real world.

· Stanger Danger – Stress to your child that they need to tell you if they receive any odd or upsetting messages while chatting and that you will not be angry with them or ban the Internet as a result. Make it clear to the child that you understand that they cannot control what other people say to them.

· Recognise that cybercriminals don’t target a specific type of person – they are opportunists looking to take advantage and make money from all online users, regardless of age.