2. Personal Online Safety
Personal Online Safety Advice
The Internet is a powerful and useful tool, but in the same way that you shouldn't drive without wearing your seat belt or leave your front door unlocked, you shouldn't venture online without taking some basic precautions.
- Make your passwords unique and do not use the same one for different accounts this should limit any security breaches.
- Protect your email by using a strong separate password. Having a strong password to protect your email means that if cyber criminals steal the password for one of your less important accounts, they can’t use it to access your email
- Use three random words to create a strong password. A good way to create a strong and memorable password is to use three random words. Numbers and symbols can still be used if needed, for example 3redhousemonkeys27!
- Be creative and use words memorable to you, so that people cannot guess your password. Your social media accounts can give away vital clues about yourself, so don’t use words such as your child’s name or favourite sports team which are easy for people to guess.
- If you have a lot of online accounts, it might be an idea to use a password manager for your least important ones. The National Cyber Security Centre has some excellent guidance on password managers which can be found here
Be Wary: Even if you know the source of an E-mail, tweet, online post or advertisement it could be infected. If something looks suspicious, delete it. Links in an email, tweets, posts and online advertising are often how cybercriminals try to steal your personal information.
Plug-Ins: Memory cards, USB’s, Flash Drives and any other external devices that you connect to could be infected. Always use your security software to scan them before you use them.
Keep your security software up-to-date: There are a number of commercial security protection packages available but it is important to ensure they are kept current as new computer viruses; malware and other online threats are constantly developed and released. Keeping your web browser, operating system and security software up-to-date is the best defence against them. Many of these can be set to update automatically.
Protect ALL your online devices: Computers are not the only devices that can be infected and you should consider protection for smartphones, gaming systems and any other device or smart appliance that is Web enabled. The mobile anti-virus and anti-malware market is relatively mature now, so there are a number of excellent solutions available.
Prepare: Back-Up and keep secure copies of any work or other information such as photos, invoices etc. so that should you be unfortunate enough to be infected you can wipe your system and restore your data from an uninfected copy. You might consider using a cloud based service, many of which offer free storage up to a certain size.
Advice for Parents and Carers
Children use the internet constantly in this day and age, both for fun and for school work.
The only trouble is, they are often light years ahead of their parents in terms of online know-how but blissfully unaware of the adults who might seek to take advantage of them and naïve about the quantity of thoroughly unsuitable content on the web.
There are some brilliant resources available on the internet, so don't let the thought of trouble make you discourage your children from using it but do take a look at our top tips to help you keep a check on your child’s online activities:
- Keep the computer in a family room, rather than a bedroom, where everyone can use it and you are more likely to keep an eye on how both the computer and any webcams or other equipment are being used.
- Learn about the internet so that you know how it works, and spend time with your children finding some interesting sites that they'll enjoy using.
- Get to know your children's on-line friends in the same way as you get to know their school friends.
- Encourage them to keep up outside activities and not spend too much time on the internet. If they have some good friends at school or in a sports group or similar, they will be less dependent on internet friends.
- Talk to your internet service provider about filtering software to help block unsuitable sites.
- Teach your children not to open emails or attachments from people they don't know. They could contain viruses or pornography.
- If you can talk openly with them about safety and encourage them to follow a few simple rules, they will feel happier about coming to you if anything does go wrong. Listen to any concerns they have but try not to be judgemental. If they tell you anything that worries you, contact the police for advice.
- There are potential risks in communicating with people that you don’t know, and unfortunately some children have been hurt after having gone to meet the ‘friends’ they have made online. Adults with a sexual interest in children have used chatrooms and other interactive areas online to make contact with and befriend children, and then ‘groomed’ them, ie persuaded and manipulated them to meet up where they have been abused.
- There have also been cases of children being bullied or threatened online in chat environments.
Advice for Children and Young People
Follow these few simple steps and make sure that you stay safe online
1) Don’t post any personal information online – like your address, email address or mobile number.
2) Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once a picture of yourself is online most people can see it and may be able to download it, it’s not just yours anymore.
3) Keep your privacy settings as high as possible
4) Never give out your passwords
5) Don’t befriend people you don’t know
6) Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. Speak to your parent or carer.
7) Remember that not everyone online is who they say they are
8) Think carefully about what you say before you post something online
9) Respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude
10) If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, leave the website, and tell a trusted adult immediately.
Video Advice for Parents and Carers
Advice for Parents and Carers
Children and young people online
Cyberbullying: How can the police help you?
You can find further advice on the Internet Matters webpage here.
Play Like Share - ThinkuKnow resource for eight-to-ten year olds
This three-episode animated series and accompanying resource pack aims to help eight-to-ten year olds learn how to stay safe from sexual abuse, exploitation and other risks they might encounter online such as sharing content.
Download Play Like Share films and resource pack here
Supporting 6-10 year olds
Give your child a guiding hand as they start their digital journey online with practical tips to help them build up their understanding of the online world and create a safe space for them to explore.
Supporting 11-13 year olds
Help your child adjust to the new challenges they may face at this age such as getting their own smartphone or joining a social network for the first time. See the guide for essential things you can do to support them.
Supporting 14+ year olds
As they continue to form their online identity and consume more and more online, see tips on how you can stay on top of what they are doing and show support when they need it most.
What kind of parent are you?
Get an understanding of how you parent to improve the way your child adapts and forms their view of the online world. Take a look at the guide for tips from Dr Linda.