In support of Safer Internet Day 2018, the team have put together some top tips on keeping yourself, your friends and family and especially your children safer online.
In 2017 alone, there were over 12,000 calls to Childline from young people discussing online issues. With this horrifying figure in mind, how can we ensure we make the internet a safer place?
Many parents or older people believe that as today’s children have been brought up in the digital generation, they automatically know what to do when surfing the web. While this may be true, our young DO find it more natural and far easier to navigate the world wide web, do they automatically know when they’re venturing into dangerous territory?
Educating yourself so that you can better educate your children is the best place to start, and we’re here to help!
You should always keep your passwords complex and update them regularly. If two factor authentication is available, you should most definitely make the most of an additional level of security to keep your work, emails and personal data safe.
Public WiFi is often unsecure, so you should be wary of which websites you are browsing on a publicly accessed internet source. If you’re going to be inputting sensitive information such as accessing your online banking service or making transactions on-the-go, it’s recommended that you invest in a VPN (which is a virtual private network), which will keep you better protected when browsing on-the-go.
These days, emails attempting to scam you out of your hard-earned money are only too frequent.
Scammers will impersonate companies like your bank, Amazon, Netflix, or any account that holds personal information - sometimes quite professionally.
If you’re in a desktop browser, your email provider will often show a warning message letting you know to be wary, as the message may be phishing mail.
There are a few steps you can take to avoid being caught in the phishing net:
Use your common sense. The email provided from the ‘HMRC Government Gateway’ doesn’t give an impression of quality design or even using a HMRC email template.
Never click the direct link in such emails. The scammers will take you to a sign up page or form that looks exactly like it would on the original, trustworthy site. However, it won’t be secured by SSL, and your personal details will go directly to the scammer. Rather than receiving the £349.33 that you’re ‘owed’ in the above email, you’ve probably just provided the scammer with all the necessary details to clear out your account.
Most emails use scare tactics to make you feel the urgency to check what they’re warning you of, or use an enticing offer. If you do feel compelled to click the link in the email to check if the warning or offer is valid, log into your account with them directly from your browser - never press the email link.
A simple Google search will often tell you all you need. The search query ‘HMRC emails’ takes you to this information page directly from the Gov.uk website, issuing a statement on their stance on email messaging.
“We’ll never send notification of a tax rebate or refund by email, or ask you to disclose personal or payment information by email. Don’t visit the website within the email or disclose any personal or payment information.”
Check the sender. While the spammer can choose what the ‘Sender’ of their email address is, they’re unable to change the appearance of the actual address it is sent from. On most mobile phones you can press the sender name in the ‘From’ section to view the sender’s actual email address. On a desktop, you can similarly click for more information.
You should always double check your security settings, to make sure that you are only sharing your updates, photos and thoughts with people you consider friends. Most social media channels allow you to choose whether your account is public or private. The more private your account is, the more secure it is. It’s also important to regularly review those that you consider friends. If you’re still ‘friends’ with someone you barely knew at school that you haven’t seen or spoken to in the past 15 years, are you sure you can still trust them?
Be a safe shopper. You should never enter your card details into a website that does not have an SSL certificate (this means that when your data is entered it is encrypted so that it cannot be deciphered in cyberspace). Checking to see if a website is safe for shopping is fairly easy. You want to ensure that the web address is prefixed with https:// rather than http://, and you want to identify that the lock symbol is just to the left of the URL.
As a parent, you should always discuss the difficult topics regarding the online world when your children are an appropriate age to browse online on their own. You can tailor the level of detail you go into in accordance with their age, and on a need-to-know basis, if you don’t want to scare your children... but if they’re not aware of any dangers, they won’t know what behaviours to look out for in other people they may be talking to or come across while browsing the internet.
Teach them the simple rules from a young age:
Don’t give any information about yourself to anyone online, such as your name, address, or phone number unless your parents say it’s okay.
Don’t meet anyone that you don’t know in the real world. If someone you don’t know is asking to meet you, you should let your parents know and let them deal with it.
Don’t respond to any mean messages, and show a parent or older sibling so they can help you deal with it. You should always be kind to other people online.
Don’t give out your password, and check with your parents if you want to download something or install software.
There are fantastic apps nowadays, such as OurPact, that lets you make agreements with and set boundaries for your children where their online browsing is concerned. You can manage their screen time and time online, set schedules of when and how often they are allowed to safely access the web, block texts during certain time periods and block usage of certain apps.
Many schools will also be teaching your children about how to be safe on the internet. It’s always a hugely beneficial idea for parents to get involved so all figures of authority and care are giving the same message, and encouraging positive online behaviours such as teaching them to follow some of the pledges below! Check out the hashtags #iPledgeTo and #SID2018 on Twitter to see even more positive pledges from children and adults alike!
#iPledgeTo only be friends with people I actually know
#iPledgeTo speak up if someone is bullying me online
#iPledgeTo speak up if I am worried about a friend online
#iPledgeTo treat people online how I would like to be treated
#iPledgeTo treat people online how I would treat them in real life
#iPledgeTo keep my passwords and personal information safe
Check out the official UK Safer Internet Centre website for more information and age sensitive advice!
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