Internet Safety: tools for a positive experience

Safer Internet Day (SID) is an annual, worldwide event that was held this year on Tuesday 5th February with the goal of helping to encourage a better internet for us all to enjoy. The theme this year was ‘Together for a better internet’. PCYC partnered with the NSW Police to hold SID presentations across all 64 PCYC local clubs.

For those of you who missed out on attending, we have pulled together some of the key learnings for you.

Protect yourselves and your information online

Always use a strong password – no DOBs, first or last names. Don’t write your passwords down, and don’t share them outside of your family. The NSW Police see many, many cases where adults and teens have shared their passwords with a trusted friend or partner – and later down the track this has come back to haunt them. It’s best to have different passwords for different platforms too.

Take the time to read the Terms & Conditions, Snapchat’s T&C’s, for example, allow the application to store and use your uploads – maybe you don’t mind now but think about the long term consequences this could have.

Keep an eye on your privacy settings and try not to share too much – look back at your posts regularly and delete any that you think give out too much information about yourself. The NSW Police don’t recommend sharing your location or checking in – especially if you are at a private residence. They go further to say that even if you are sharing a public location – this is tempting when you are on a holiday for example, you should be aware that by doing this you have just alerted people that your home may be empty.

Think about what you are wearing in your posts – If you share a photo that has your school uniform or sports uniform – this is a big giveaway that allows people to know what school you attend.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is sending mean, harmful or upsetting messages, comments, pictures or videos online. For example, sending an intimate picture of someone to someone else without their consent is cyberbullying. It is very easy to get on a bandwagon – the NSW Police say that your response tactic should be: “Don’t Engage”. This can be very hard to do when you or your family or friends are being insulted, but they want you to respond – the best thing you can do is not engage.

It’s important to be respectful online – stop and think about how you want to be treated.

If you do engage, consider that you don’t know what people are going through in their lives and that one message could push them over the edge. There are also serious legal consequences of cyberbullying, you can land in hot water after just one comment.

Remember you are never alone – we understand it’s not easy for kids to tell their parents everything. You can come and talk to us at your local PCYC club – that is what we are here for. We strongly urge that you keep records of any type of bullying that happens to you just in case it does escalate. If you see something do something – if you see a friend getting bullied online –  send them a private message to check in on how they are. Keep an eye on your friends and if you are concerned about anything you have seen online consider letting their parents or teacher know.

If you are not sure what constitutes bullying or if something has escalated contact the police and have a talk about it.

Respectful Relationships

Technology can help to build and maintain stronger relationships in our lives. We do however, need to make sure that the people we are interacting with are respecting our boundaries and that we are respecting theirs. It’s ok to say “I didn’t really like that you said that”.

It’s important that teenagers know that images that feature an underage person in their underwear are considered pornography. Many people, adults and teenagers alike make the mistake of sending images to people who are not trustworthy: friendships and relationships change. Teenagers need to be aware that even if they themselves are underage and they send an “underwear” image to another underage person or share such images that were sent to them – all of these actions constitute the distribution of pornography and can lead to serious charges. Even saving one of these types of photos on your phone that you were sent is illegal.

Sharing these images is one of the most frequent mistakes that teenagers make, so we recommend subscribing to the #dontsharethepic mentality: “It’s not your photo, it’s not your body, and it’s not your right to share” – you don’t have the ownership to store it on your phone, send it or show it to someone in person.

Where you can go for help

The Kids Help Line, you can call or contact this organisation online 24 hours a day, they also offer a free counselling service.

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner is a fantastic resource for parents and even if nothing has happened that’s concerning, there are lots of educational and practical resources so that parents can be prepared if something does happen.

Think U Know – this organisation has a parents portal for guidance and reporting tools.

How Can You Help Your Child?

Some General Tips:

  • Encourage open discussions with your children about what content they might be sharing. Talk about some tactics they could use if they feel pressured to send images.
  • Try to avoid judgement and labelling.
  • Using apps with disappearing media(such as Snapchat), where photos, videos or messages are meant to disappear after a few seconds: make sure your child knows that these posts can be saved and stored without their knowledge.
  • Ghost, decoy or vault apps can be used to hide images on smartphones.

Find your local PCYC club for cyber safety support, a sense of community and a wide range of activities from boxing and gymnastics to creative kids activities and after school care.

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