August 31, 2011

Online Safety

Online safety is used interchangeably with terms such as Internet safety, cyber-safety, Internet security, online security and cyber-security. The risk of using computers, mobile phones and other electronic devices to access the Internet or other social media (SMS) is that breaches of privacy may lead to fraud, identity theft and unauthorised access to personal information.
For a child, going online may not only place their immediate emotional health at risk, but also potentially lead to physical harm. This is particularly so where little or no attention has been paid to the security of the device being used. The Internet has its share of dangers and risks for children, such as cyber bullying, stalking, or exposure to illicit materials. Criminal offenders have proved to be highly skilled at exploiting new models of communications to gain access to children, and adult-only materials can be easily accessed by children if there are no protective mechanisms in place.
While online safety is important for protecting children from dangerous and inappropriate websites and materials, this does not mean that parents should discourage their children from accessing the Internet. The challenge is to help children enjoy the benefits of going online while avoiding the risks.

Practical tips for parents to help children use the Internet

  • Talk calmly and frankly with your child and other family members about Internet activities.
  • Keep the computer in a shared family area where you can monitor how long your child is online as well as the websites your child is visiting.
  • Together with your child, set up some simple and fair rules about Internet use. This may include setting reasonable limits on the amount of screen time that your child is allowed.
  • For older children, a written Internet use agreement with them will help to make rules clear.
  • Use the History button in the browser program. It will allow tracking of the websites that your child visits.
  • Find out if your child’s school has an Internet policy and how Internet safety is maintained there.
  • Remember that mobile phones and other digital devices can be used to access the Internet, and that use of these devices may also need to be monitored.
  • If there is a wireless connection in the house, turn it off when it is not in use.
  • Explain to your child that not all information on the Internet is good, true or helpful, and that some areas are for grown-ups only and are not intended for children to see.
  • Help your child identify unsuitable material by naming some things to look out for, such as sites that contain scary or rude pictures, swearing or angry words.
  • Use a family-friendly Internet service provider (ISP) that provides proven online safety protocols, or ask an ISP how to source and install the right kinds of Internet security products for you and your family.
  • Empower your child to use the Internet safely by showing your child safe sites and explaining why they are safe. It’s also important to educate your child on why it’s not safe to give out any personal details online.
  • Focus on the positive aspects of the Internet when you are guiding your child. Spend time looking together at sites that are fun, interesting or educational.
  • Encourage your child to question things on the Internet. When looking at a new site, your child could ask things like “Who is in charge of this site?”, “Have I found information, or is it just opinion?” or “Is this site trying to influence me or sell me something?”.
  • Search for and use educational programs or websites specifically designed for your child’s age group.
  • If you are not familiar with the Internet, start by learning about it yourself. All you need is a basic understanding to help you supervise and guide your child. You can check out community resources such as your local library, neighbourhood house, TAFE or Council of Adult Education programs. Many of these will provide classes or further information.

See below for more advise and information sites on how to protect your family, and use the internet for the great research tool it is intended for.
Please click on this button to report abuse or receive help/advice on cyberbullying :

·         Report online child sexual exploitation
Report any inappropriate sexual behaviour towards a child.
·         Report inappropriate content
Report any Internet content which you believe is prohibited or inappropriate.
·         Report spam
Report spam to the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
·         Help and advice on cyber-bullying
Assistance on how to deal with cyber-bullying.
Note: This information is for people who live in Australia only.  For advice on reporting these issues from another country, please visit the Virtual Global Taskforce website.

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