Posted by: Natalie Hatch | September 14, 2009

Internet Safety

The world wide web is a wonderful tool in the right hands. It allows you to meet old friends, keep in contact with family, find information for projects and entertain 24hrs a day. But, there is a dark side to this technology as well. There are, unfortunately, people out in the world who pray on the young and innocent. They set themselves up to be as appealing as they can and work overtime to track down information about you. Why? Because they have intentions for you that aren’t in your best interest.

I think I’m being a little too Politically Correct here. Let’s just say there are some dirtbags out there who would like nothing better than to use you to fulfill their own sick and twisted fantasies.

How can you keep yourself safe when you’re surfing on the web or on Facebook or other social network applications? There are hundreds of police sites across the world which are dedicated to help you do this.

I thought I would break down all that info into manageable bite size pieces for us today. So here we go, let’s avoid the weirdos and skanky jerks while we’re using the internet.

  • Never give out your home address, school name, phone numbers on public chat rooms or bulletin boards.
  • Don’t send pictures of yourself without permission from parents/guardians.
  • Never arrange face-to-face meetings with other computer users without parental permission or back-up
  • Don’t add people you don’t personally know to your facebook/myspace/twitter friends list. Even if they claim they are friends of friends of yours, if you haven’t met them face to face they are not what they seem.

From Cybersmart (the Australian Government initiative to help teens cope with staying safe on the net):

  • Be careful who you trust online. A person can pretend to be someone they are not, online.
  • Choose your friends. While it’s good to have a lot of friends, having hundreds of online friends makes it harder to control what happens to information you post online. Don’t accept friend requests if you’re not sure about the person.
  • Keep your friends list manageable. by making sure that the majority of your friends are your real life ones. It’s a good idea to occasionally spring-clean your friends list to remove people you don’t know in person, especially if you haven’t heard from them in a while.
  • Keep your personal details private. Use an appropriate handle or username instead of your real name in a chat room where they may be lots of people you don’t know. Don’t give anyone on the internet your name, address, phone number or any other personal details if you are unsure.
  • Set your profile to private and use the privacy settings to control who can see your photos and posts.
  • Always keep your password secret. Don’t even share it with your friends.
  • If you want to arrange to meet someone you’ve met online, ask an adult you trust like your mum, dad, an older brother or sister or another adult to go with you. Always meet in a public place, preferably during the day.
  • If someone writes something rude, offensive or something you don’t like, don’t respond, and block them.
  • Use appropriate avatars. While it’s fun to make up new characters, be aware of how others see you online, and keep it safe. If your avatar is too sexed up, you might attract attention from people you don’t really want to communicate with.
  • Think twice about what you say and post, and the type of information you give to people. Even little bits of information can be used to build a bigger picture and make it possible for someone to steal your identity. Posts on the internet can remain there for a long time and easily become public, so if it’s not something you’d want your mum to see, don’t post it!

It’s important to realise that sometimes your parents/guardians actually do care about you when they nag at you to keep safe on the net.

My advice is go read a good book instead of wasting your precious time. There are fabulous books being released this month, tomorrow I will share a few quick reviews for you to consider.

The idea of trusting those who you don’t really know made my mind skip back to Alice Sebolds book “The Lovely Bones”.  The story of Salmon who trusted her neighbour and the consequences of one wrong move haunted me today. I know they’re making a movie out of it, but the book really is worth your while. Grab it from your nearest bookstore or library, you won’t be disappointed.

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Responses

  1. Great post Nat. It sure reminds everyone to be Internet savvy and be safe. Be safe everyone!


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