Internet Safety

The Internet changes the way we can research and communicate in a very powerful way – but there is a dark side and young people must be aware of it and know how to protect themselves. As a parent, you need to know what the issues are and how best to deal with them.

It is really important to involve your children in the development of your Family Internet Agreement, just as you would explain to them why it is necessary to wear a seat belt in the car, or why they should not speak to strangers in a park. The content of each family’s Agreement will vary widely according to the ages of your children – the following covers the main points, which need to be considered:

First things first…
  • Keep Internet-connected computers in a communal area of your home.
  • Become an Internet user yourself.

Acceptable Use

  • Be clear about what you consider to be unacceptable information.
  • Be clear about what is unacceptable communication.
  • Never download unknown files.
  • Agree, if necessary, who can use the Internet, and when.
  • Agree how long each person can be on line.
  • Consider whether you want your Agreement to apply to visiting friends and family.

Personal Safety

Emphasise what you have already taught your children about ‘Stranger Danger’.

Explain that passwords, addresses, PIN numbers, credit card details, phone and e-mail details are all private and should NEVER be given to anyone.

Ensure your child knows NEVER to arrange to meet anyone met via the Internet, because not everyone is who they say they are.

If your child has his/her own e-mail address it is best if it does not give any indication of their age or gender.

Find child-friendly chat rooms with full-time, trained moderators for your children to use.

Encourage your child to know that it is safe to tell you about anything found via the Internet.

NetSmart rules for the kids

Here are a series of does and don’t to keep you safe when using the Internet at home and in School. Remember in School you are not allowed to enter a chat room, but we enclose advice about them if you are allowed to access them at home.

Never…
  • Never tell anyone you meet on the Internet your home address, your telephone number or your school’s name, unless your parent or carer specifically gives you permission.
  • Never send anyone your picture, credit card or bank details, without first checking with your parent or carer.
  • Never arrange to meet anyone unless your parent or carer goes with you and you meet in a public place. People you contact on line are not always who they seem, even people who become pen friends or ‘keypals’. People don’t always tell the truth on line – no one can see them.
  • Never open attachments to e-mails unless they come from someone you already know and trust. They could contain viruses or other programmes, which would destroy all the information and software on your computer.
  • Never respond to nasty or suggestive messages. Always tell your parent or carer if you get such messages or if you see rude pictures while on line and report them to your Internet Service Provider.
Always…
  • Always keep your password to yourself, do not share it with anyone.
  • Always check with your parent or carer that it is ok to be in a chat room.
  • Always be very careful in chat rooms. Even if a chat room says it is only for children, there’s no way at the moment to tell if everyone there really is a child: it might be an adult or an older child trying to trick you.
  • Always get out of a chat room if someone says or writes something, which makes you feel uncomfortable or worried. Make sure you tell your parent or carer.
  • Always be yourself and do not pretend to be anyone or anything you are not.
  • Always stay away from sites that say they are for people over 18 only. The warnings are there to protect you. Adult sites can sometimes cost a lot more on your phone bill too.
  • Always tell your parents or a teacher if you discover something on the internet you know you should not have accessed. This will enable the School to prevent other children from accessing the site in the future.

What direct action can you take?

Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) and find out what child-safety measures they offer, if any, and how to use them. Choose software to protect against inappropriate Internet access. Complain to your ISP if you or your child find any inappropriate content or are subjected to any inappropriate contacts by strangers on-line. Contact the Internet Watch Foundation via their web site at http://www.internetwatch.org.uk/ in the case of possibly illegal material.

The issues covered in this leaflet are obviously worrying. However, it is important to keep these things in perspective.

Whilst the Internet introduces new potential dangers it also brings some really fantastic benefits to children and their learning which need to be balanced against the possible risks. The points covered by this Agreement are not necessarily going to affect your child directly, but they are real risks for which you family needs to be prepared.

Information about setting up e safety protection using your internet provider can be found by following this link: