The Internet now dominates most of our lives and children need to be made aware of some of the potential dangers that can lurk online. It’s not all bad however there are certain sectors of the web that can pose a danger and influence our future generations. There is a colossal amount of information available to our kids these days that we as children had no access to. We weren’t bewitched by a world of technology, exposed to all the plethora of high tech gadgets that our children expect to own and all the associated websites and social interaction this has brought about.
Just go back a generation to when personal computers started to emerge; to a time when the Sinclair ZX81 started to make inroads into shaping the future, where most us of these days own computers and think nothing about it, even having wireless computerised thermostats controlling central heating. We did not have access to the volume of information and the only way to find something out was to read a book a newspaper or visit the local library. If we were curious about something we could look it up not be exposed to the amount of material that is online these days.
We weren’t exposed to the volume of inappropriate material that is available or the various websites that exist to influence beliefs. Or the communities that can be joined for social interaction where there are certain members of society can skulk around pretending to be someone they are not.
Be SMART on Safer Internet Day
Safer Internet Day is a great opportunity to educate and to introduce children to measures that can keep them safer online. S.M.A.R.T is a great acronym that can be used to teach children techniques that will make them SMART and keep them safe.
S – Safe Keep safe at all times, don’t give out any personal details over the internet, don’t tell anyone online any personal details like your name, address, email address, telephone number. Don’t publish a birthday or passwords. The Internet is a faceless place, you just don’t know who you might be talking to. Your personal information can be used for criminal purposes. Be smart and protect your personal information.
M – Meeting Do not arrange to meet anyone who you have been communicating with over the web. Again you can never be sure who you are talking to is actually who they claim to be and never arrange to meet with anyone who you have met through the Internet. You must always tell parents if someone is asking to meet you. If you speak with parents and they can agree the best way to deal with the request. They must accompany you if they agree you can meet, but you must never go alone. Always confide in an adult if anyone approaches you online for a meeting.
A – Accept Do not accept or open emails, images or messages that you receive from people who you do not know or trust. They could contain computer viruses that could potentially damage your computer; someone may send nasty images to you. You may receive emails containing nasty messages. You could be a target of bully’s using social media and emails. Be SMART and do not open.
R – Reliable When surfing the Internet you will come across a vast amount of information. Do not assume what you are reading is true, you need to do further investigation. Talk to your parents your friends a relative to confirm what you have read is true. People do lie online so be SMART and check out any promises or information you may come across.
T – Tell You must tell an adult if you come across something or have been in touch with someone who is worrying or if you are not sure about something that you have discovered. Confide in your parents, relatives, friends they will be able to give advice, so be SMART and Tell
Childnet provides an enormous amount of resources about Safer Internet practices for children.