Safety on the Internet

News 

Author

Arnika Macphail

"Would you leave your front door wide open?" let a stranger walk in and take a good look around? Would you let someone talk to you or your friends in a bullish way? Follow them around and make comments about them? Would you unlock your door at night and tell everyone your home alone?

Safety on the Internet

While we may not allow these actions to take place in a physical setting of life, we maybe letting it happen on the internet towards ourselves, family, friends and our children. There are two approaches to staying safe on the internet. One, don’t use the internet and two, know how to recognise behaviour from others and how to protect our computers from hackers so we can still enjoy connecting online.


So how do we stay safe on the internet.

There are several key areas we can look at to keep safe when using the internet, below are three that will help with bringing awareness to safety for our children and ourselves. First let’s cover what we can do if any threats or unsafe situations happen to our children.

Knowing how to report abuse or a suspicious person

With devices everywhere and all sorts of people using the internet, it’s important to teach our children about internet safety.

  • All legitimate sites will have a Report Abuse button. Take time to go through the most popular sites with your children and where to find them so as in the future you are able to act quickly if needed. Plus, it gives the child confidence to take action themselves.
  • Report concerns to your local police or contact them for advice.
  • Teach children about what unacceptable behaviour, questions and talk on the internet, and to talk to yourself, a teacher or another adult whenever they feel unsafe or confused about an online situation. (Netsafe NZ is a great resource for seeing the signs)

Most importantly listen to children and take their concerns seriously. Netsafe has the following on their website

If you need help right now contact Netsafe  on 0508 NETSAFE (0508 638 723), email help@netsafe.org.nz or by completing an online report form. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, contact the Police on 111.

Content sharing and Social Safety

People love to share what is happening in their lives, and as their friends we love to see it. Social networks help us stay connected to family and friends who may be living in a different location to us or help us connect to groups of like-minded people.

Being aware of not only what and how much sharing is going on but also what the settings are on our social profile will help keep us safe.

Head into the settings of any social network, and there you can up-date the settings. Keeping the settings on private will ensure that only family and friends can see your posts.

Also keeping in mind what is being shared, what photos are you placing online? Are you letting people know you are out for the evening, yet you have your address set to public. It’s so easy to say “it will be okay this time” but sometimes its not.

Our kids love to be part of the group or feel accepted, and when a new friend request comes through it can feel great. Take care with friend requests or who wants to connect you’re your kids online. Stalk them back first if need be and make a decision based on what information is gathered about them. We don’t have to friend and follow everyone.

Keeping your computer safe

Up-to-date anti-malware is the best way to keep our devices and personal information safe.

It keeps out hackers who want your personal information, or can help to stop the downloading of a programme that has a virus in it that can cause harm to your computer and spy on you.

How do hackers get into our devices? Downloads of any type; photos, apps or free software. So always think about what you are about to download, and did it come from a reputable site.

In their paper Defend Your Devices Against Internet Dangers, Microsoft shares more ideas to help keep your device and personal information safe

The internet is a vast and exciting place to connect to for education and entertainment. But like all things, keeping safe is a high priority.

Safety on the internet is valid for both our children and ourselves. If we, as adults know the dangers and how to deal with them, we are better equiped to help our children. Keeping our eyes and ears open and teaching people about the signs, words and content posted can help prevent any dangers entering our lives.

Resources to help keep us safe on the internet

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) YouTube channel

Microsoft internet safety

Cyber Bullying NZ

Netsafe NZ