In a recent one-off Channel 4 drama, Cyberbully, the fears of young internet users and their parents would have been heightened at how simple it can be for people’s lives to be critically damaged by certain online behaviour.
The fact is anyone of any age can be at risk from bullies, trolls and hackers, but thankfully help is at hand.
February 9th has been designated Safer Internet Day and on the back of that, here are some tips on how to keep your online experiences fun, healthy and safe.
If you happen to spot something worrying or possibly even criminal while online, don’t just quickly shut the page or image down and move on. Don’t simply leave it up to others to report disturbing imagery or content, instead get straight on to the Internet Watch Foundation.
If you’re a professional who works with children and young people and you have concerns about online safety issues, whether it’s with bullying, sex, gaming and child protection, the Safer Internet Centre has been set up to assist. A helpline (0844 381 4772; [email protected]) is there for you to report any issues.
Controlling the story
There will no doubt be some people who think that the likes of parental controls and locks on technological devices are a nasty symbol of Big Brother state surveillance. But when it comes to protecting our children and grandchildren, there should be few limits to what you are allowed to do. The simplest method is to get to know the safety tools on all devices they might use while in your home. Better still, don’t allow them to simply hibernate on their gadgets for too long at a time.
While one of the benefits of our technological age is being able to connect with more people and more quickly than ever before, the overload of information has led to us revealing private data in a way that we would never have even considered doing in the pre-internet age. Being ‘friends’ online is one thing, but don’t let slip any details about yourself that you wouldn’t want to be discovered by strangers. Keep information about where you live, your phone numbers and bank details as close to your chest as possible.
The internet is a complex and labyrinthine world of strands and connections, which can lead you to getting tangled up if you’re not careful. Not for nothing was it formerly called the web. But for all the negative connotations the internet brings, it can be a wonderful trigger for education and entertainment. If you stay as safe as you can and report any worrying developments on your screen, then it should be a fun tool for you and your family.
Do you know of anyone who had a bad online experience?