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Internet Safety

Cyberspace is like a large city. There are places and activities that can be great fun, but there are also hidden risks and areas that may be dangerous for children and young people. It is important to know how to deal with the dangers so that you can stay safe online. Remember – being careful isn’t boring. You wouldn’t cross a busy street without looking out for traffic, so why should you ignore the dangers in Cyberspace?

One way to protect yourself is to practise SMART thinking.


= Secret

  • Ask yourself WHO wants the information, WHY do they want it and WHAT will they do with it?
  • Keep your personal information secret by using a nickname in chat rooms and public forums.
  • Protect your e-mail address by using a free e-mail service. You can just delete the account if things go wrong.
  • You should NEVER tell anyone your passwords.
  • Don't tell anyone where the computer is in your house. Some people might ask because they want to know if anyone can see the messages they are sending you.

= Meeting

  • Chat rooms can be fun, but there may be people there who want to make contact with you for harmful or illegal purposes.
  • These people often target a gaming environment because they know that lots of children will be there.
  • They are sometimes on the lookout for children who are lonely or who are going through a bad time, so watch out for any questions about how you are feeling.
  • You should NEVER arrange to meet anyone you've only met in Cyberspace without asking your parents first.
  • If you are talking to a stranger in a chat room, ask yourself WHY they want you to go off to a private chat room for a one-to-one discussion.

= Attachment

  • Ask yourself WHO sent it and will it be SAFE to open it?
  • If you receive an email with an attachment from a source that you don’t want to trust, you can just delete it or get your anti-virus software to scan it again.

= Reliable

  • You can’t tell if information online is true.
  • It doesn’t matter how many times you have chatted with someone, you can NEVER know who they are unless you have met them offline. It is not uncommon for older adults to pretend to be teenagers online.
  • It is possible to "forge" email addresses and make the message appear to come from someone else. Be suspicious if the content seems unusual for the person it is coming from.

= Tell

  • Talk to a parent or trusted adult if websites or messages make you uncomfortable.
  • Don’t try to deal with things on your own, especially anything that involves a dangerous or criminal activity.
  • You, a parent or a trusted adult should REPORT cybercrime to your local law enforcement office.
  • Take a printout of a message, but don’t delete anything. Police need to be able to check the headers and other information in an e-mail in order to trace it.
Up To Speed
There are lots of good websites and resources that address online safety issues. One of the best for kids is CyberQuoll. Other sites offer downloadable leaflets, booklets and posters. You can find many of these by going to Kids_and_Teens/Computers/Internet/Safety .

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