Safer Internet Day: Tips for safer internet usage

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Today is Safer Internet Day, an initiative to promote safer use of the internet. The internet can offer plenty of positive experiences and opportunities for young and enquiring minds. But it’s important for them to understand where the boundaries are and how to use it responsibly. The Safer Internet Day website has a variety of resources for parents and schools to help educate children about proper use of the internet. Here are some other useful tips to help you help them better understand the internet.

Posting photos online is like throwing them to the wind

Once you upload a photo, you don’t know where it might end up and who might see it. There are plenty of privacy features on every social network, but that doesn’t cover you completely. A friend might see a photo, think it’s hilarious, and then share it themselves on a social network, for example. And that’s leaving unsavoury incidents like hacking aside. Worryingly, a report from ESET Ireland yesterday found that 70% of those aged 16-24 have shared images that would embarrass them if made public. Posting a photo online is easy, but getting it taken down is next to impossible. Just ask Beyoncé.

Location, location, location

Location tracking is often on by default on new smart devices. There is certainly some merit to them; they can help you find your way or get transportation, for example. However, they can also let people know that there’s no one in your house. It’s important to know how to control how and when your location is shared. You don’t have to enable Location Services just because an app tells you that you’ll enjoy a better experience if you do.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

There are certain mantras that many of us were taught when we were younger. “Treat others as you’d like to be treated” and “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” The same should be applied when using the internet. Sometimes we forget that real people are at the other side of an online handle or username. Hopefully Jimmy Kimmel’s segment of celebrities reading mean tweets has taught people that, but there’s a good chance they just focus on the entertainment value instead.

Moderation is key

The internet can be a fantastic resource, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. A recent report titled Net Kids Go Mobile found that most children spend between half an hour and two hours online per day. Many of the 3,500 children, aged 9-16, involved in the study said that they used the internet a lot after 9pm. While most access the internet at home, they use their smartphone to connect, which means that responsible behaviour is literally and figuratively in their hands.

Beware of cyberbullies

The Net Children Go Mobile report found that one in five Irish children have been bothered by something online in the past year, a figure that has more than doubled since 2011. It’s important for children to know where to turn to if people are hassling them online. Yes, they should seek help from adults, but they should also make use of the reporting tools on social media. Dr Brian O’Neill who worked on the study in Ireland said that social media sites are coming under pressure to implement safety features and buttons, but there is a shortcoming if children do not know how to use them.

In Short: It’s important that children learn how to use the internet safely. Here are some tips to help you teach them how to be safer online.

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Posts from the Harvey Norman blog team.

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