The internet and social websites are part of everyday life, but they could be dangerous and you should ensure your safety online. Children are especially susceptible to the threats that the internet and social networking websites present. By teaching children about internet safety, being aware of their online habits and guiding them to appropriate websites, parents can ensure that their children become safe and responsible users on social networking websites.
- False identities are easy to create. Making new friends online is easy and convenient, but it is different to doing it in person. You cannot see who is at the other end of the computer. The internet makes it easy for someone to be anyone else in the world.
- Not all information is private. Unfortunately, the information that is posted online is not always private. This means that anyone can view it. There are also online message boards that are indexed by search engines. This means that others can view the conversations that were discussed, even years down the line.
- Internet predators. Often, individuals who lie about their ages are internet predators. They are the ones who target children. Unfortunately, many children, teenagers and their parents cannot tell who is an internet predator until it is too late, such as when the predators try to approach your child or contact them in person. You should never ignore the following danger signs:
If the person tries to insist on having your address or phone number
If the person emails you pictures which make you feel uncomfortable and which you would not want to show to anyone else
If the person wants to keep their chats with you secret
If the person tells you that you will get into trouble if you tell an adult what has been going on
If the person wants you to email them pictures of yourself or use a webcam in a way which makes you feel uncomfortable
If the person shares information with you and tells you not to tell anyone else about it
If the person wants to meet you in person and tells you not to let anyone know
- Do not give out personal information, such as your address(es), telephone number(s), parents’ work address/telephone number(s) or the name and location of your school without your parents’ permission.
- Only accept followers you know. Do not let strangers follow you on social media websites or chat rooms, in the same way as you would not let a stranger follow you in real life.
- Tell your parents immediately if you come across any information that make you feel uncomfortable.
- Never agree to get together with someone you have met online without first checking with your parents. If your parents agree to the meeting, be sure that it is in a public place and bring a parent along.
- Never send a person your picture or anything else without first checking with your parents.
- Do not respond to any messages that are mean or make you feel uncomfortable in any way. Tell your parents immediately.
- Do not give your passwords to anyone other than your parents, even your best friends.
- Check with your parents before downloading or installing software or doing anything that could possibly jeopardise your family’s privacy.
- Be a good online citizen and do not do anything that hurts other people or is against the law.
- Every parent should be aware of some important internet and social media safety tips that could protect their children from potential harm. The internet can be a dangerous place and social media websites are no exception. There are several things you, as a parent, can do to make sure your children can participate safely.
- Learn about the internet and social media. Knowledge is power. Stay informed of the latest websites and social media that children make use of.
- Insist on knowing your child’s passwords and learn the common acronyms children use online and in text messages. See the list of common acronyms below.
- Get involved. Spend time online with your child, whether at home, at the library or at a computer centre in your community. Your involvement in your child’s life, including his or her online life, is the best insurance you can have for your child’s safety.
- Move your child’s computer into a family room or a frequently traveled room: In fact, your child should be able to use a shared family computer. This tends to limit the visiting of potential dangerous chat rooms and social networking websites, as most teens prefer to view these sites in private. If you must, limit your child’s use of the computer to certain times, such as when you are home or in the room.
- Talk to your child about the dangers of the internet. Let them know that it is possible to meet internet predators online, especially with the use of private chat rooms or social networking websites. Let them know that if they are harassed, whether it be by someone they know or do not know, they must contact you immediately. You may, in turn, want to contact the proper authorities.
Where to get parental control tools
- Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is the best place to start.
- Your local computer store where you can buy “blocking and filtering” software.
- Certain web browsers enforce parental control systems.
Social media acronyms that ALL parents should know
Most of the acronyms listed below have sexual meanings and motives behind them and may be used by predators. Many of the acronyms also show that teens have ways to make sure you do not catch a glimpse of something they may be sending or posting. This list is only a small sample of acronyms used on social media websites. There are various websites that provide updated lists which you should take note of.
GNOC – Get Naked On Cam
TDTM – Talk Dirty To Me
NIFOC – Naked In Front Of Computer
PAW – Parents Are Watching
PIR – Parent In Room
POS – Parent Over Shoulder
CD9/Code 9 – Parent/Adult around
ASL(R P) – Age Sex Location (Race/Picture)
(L)MIRL – (Let us) meet in real life
MOS – Mom Over Shoulder
P911 – Parent emergency
PRON – Porn
S2R – Send To Receive (pictures)
FYEO – For Your Eyes Only
This article first appeared on the SA Police Service’s site