Be aware of the risks…
- Inappropriate material – There is a risk that children may be exposed to material that is pornographic, sexually explicit or offensive, hateful or violent in nature, or that encourages activities that are dangerous or illegal.
- Physical Danger – ‘Stranger danger’ is also a risk associated with the Internet. It is possible your child may physically meet a person who may claim online to be someone they are not. It is vital that children know not to provide personal information to anyone they meet online.
- Commercialisation of the Internet – unwanted advertising and marketing towards children is on the increase. This high level of commercialism is evident in World Wide Web, in email, in online marketing – even taking the form of online gambling. Scam websites have been set up to deprive people of money or opportunity. Another financial risk related to Internet use is called ‘dumping’. Internet dumping occurs when somebody is tricked into disconnecting from the Internet at the normal cheaper rate, and unknowingly reconnecting at a more expensive rate.
- Harassment and bullying – Cyber bullying can be carried out through Internet services such as email, chat rooms, discussion groups, instant messaging or web pages. It can also include bullying through mobile phone technologies such as SMS. Cyber bullying can include teasing and being made fun of, the spreading of rumours online, the sending of unwanted messages and defamation.
- Exploitation – Some websites prompt people to complete a form on which they are asked to reveal their name, email address, age and gender, and sometimes even their telephone number and postal address, in order to access information. Just as you would not provide personal information to someone you meet on the street, neither should you do so on the Internet.
- Unreliable information – Information on some websites may misrepresent the truth, be misleading, be out of date, biased or just incorrect.
- Spam – Spam is the email equivalent of junk mail or nuisance phone calls. Spam is simply any unsolicited electronic mail sent in bulk to individuals or organisations.
- Viruses – While email is a useful way of communicating and sharing information, there are risks associated with its use. Unsolicited email from unknown senders may contain virus-infected attachments or links that lead to a virus-infected website.
The internet has created a whole new world of social communication for young people who are using e-mail, web sites, instant messaging, chat rooms and text messaging to stay in touch with friends. While most interactions are positive, increasingly kids are using these communication tools to intimidate others. This has become known as cyber bullying. Therefore, Cyber bullying is willful and repeated harm inflicted through the medium of electronic text. Like bullying, cyber bullying involves recurring harm and can be distinguished from peer harassment as a subset of aggressive behavior because bullying represents a pattern of behavior committed over a period of time. The anonymity, ease of provocation, and almost infinite source of targets means the Internet is full of predators from pedophiles targeting children to serial bullies targeting… anybody. Cyber Bullies use electronic information and communication devices such as:
- Instant Messaging (IM)
- Text Messages
- Mobile Phones
- Defamatory websites
To bully or otherwise harass an individual or group through personal attacks or other means. A very famous case of cyber harassment is the “Star Wars Kid” tape. At his school, a 15-year old boy video-taped himself. Then his classmates uploaded it to the internet-sharing software. Someone online added effects to mock him and now over 100 versions are available on the web. The intention seemed to be to just generate laughs, nevertheless, once an image–in this case a two minute video tape–is sent into cyber space, there is no control over who gets it and how it is used. Now this boy’s parents are trying to protect his identity. Their son dropped out of school and is being counseled. How would any of us feel if that happened to us? How would we feel if we were 15?