With school holidays starting on Friday, learners will most probably end up spending more time behind their keypads and keyboards.
However, as with all things, caution and safety must be exercised to avoid the dangers of the internet and the police have offered pointers to ensure online safety.
“Children are especially susceptible to the threats that the Internet and social networking websites present. By teaching children about internet safety, being aware of their online habits and guiding them to appropriate websites, parents can make sure that their children become safe and responsible users on social networking websites,” the SAPS said in a statement.
Online safety pointers for children:
1. Do not give out personal information, such as your address(es), telephone number(s), parents’ work address/telephone number(s) or the name and location of your school without your parents’ permission.
2. Only accept followers you know. Do not let strangers follow you on social media websites or chat rooms, in the same way as you would not let a stranger follow you in real life.
3. Tell your parents immediately if you come across any information that makes you feel uncomfortable.
4. Never agree to physically meet someone you have on “met” online without first checking with your parents. If your parents agree to the meeting, be sure that it is in a public place and bring a parent along.
5. Never send a person your picture or anything else without first checking with your parents.
6. Do not respond to any messages that are mean or make you feel uncomfortable in any way. Tell your parents immediately.
7. Do not give your passwords to anyone other than your parents, even your best friends.
8. Check with your parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly jeopardise your family’s privacy.
9. Be a good online citizen and do not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
How parents can ensure their children are safe online:
1. Learn about the internet and social media and stay informed of the latest internet websites and social media that children make use of.
2. Insist on knowing your child’s passwords and learn the common acronyms children use online and in text messages. See the list of common acronyms below.
3. Get involved. Spend time online with your child, whether at home, at the library or at a computer centre in your community. Your involvement in your child’s life, including his or her online life, is the best insurance you can have for your child’s safety.
4. Move your child’s computer into a family room or a frequently travelled room: In fact, your child should be able to use a shared family computer. This tends to limit the visiting of potential dangerous chat rooms and social networking websites, as most teens prefer to view these sites in private. If you must, limit your child’s use of the computer to certain times, such as when you are home or in the room.
5. Talk to your child about the dangers of the Internet. Let them know that it is possible to meet Internet predators online, especially with the use of private chat rooms or social networking websites. Let them know that if they are harassed, whether it be by someone they know or do not know, they must contact you immediately. You may, in turn, want to contact the proper authorities.
6. Obtain parental control tools from the following service providers:
7. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) The best place to start is with the company that provides you with a connection to the Internet.
8. Your local computer store You can buy “blocking and filtering” software.
9. Web browsers You can also use certain web browsers to enforce parental control systems.
Social media acronyms parents should know:
1. GNOC – Get Naked On Cam
2. TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
3. NIFOC – Naked In Front Of Computer
4. PAW – Parents Are Watching
5. PIR – Parent In Room
6. POS – Parent Over Shoulder
7. CD9/Code 9 – Parent/Adult around
8. ASL(R P) – Age Sex Location (Race/Picture)
9. (L)MIRL – (Let us) meet in real life
10. MOS – Mom Over Shoulder
11. P911 – Parent emergency
12. PRON – Porn
13. S2R – Send To Receive (pictures)
14. FYEO – For Your Eyes Only
Predator warning signs:
1. If the person insists on having your address or phone number
2. If the person emails you pictures that make you feel uncomfortable or you would not want to show to anyone else
3. If the person wants to keep their chats with your secret
4. If the person tells you that you will get into trouble if you tell an adult what has been going on
5. If the person wants you to email them pictures of yourself or use a webcam in a way which makes you feel uncomfortable
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6. If the person shares information with you and tells you not to tell anyone else about it
7. If the person wants to meet you in person and tells you not to let anyone know.
Internet and social media website dangers:
1. False identities are easy to create. Making new friends online is easy and convenient, but it is different from doing it in person. You cannot see who is at the other end of the connection. The Internet makes it easy for someone to be anyone else in the world.
2. Not all information is private. Unfortunately, the information that is posted online is not always private. This means that anyone can view it. There are also online message boards that are indexed by the search engines. This means that others can view the conversations that were discussed, even years down the line.
3. Internet predators. Often, individuals who lie about their ages are Internet predators. They are the ones who target children. Unfortunately, many children, teenagers and their parents cannot tell who is an Internet predator until it is too late, such as when the predators try to approach your child or contact them in person.
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