This year marks the 10th anniversary of Safer Internet Day, which is held to promote safer and more responsible use of online technology, particularly with the increasing accessibility of the Internet on mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, mostly amongst the younger generations across the world.
Safer Internet Day was held on Tuesday 5 February, co-ordinated by the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centre’s across Europe, and co-funded by the European Commission. The theme for this year was “Connect with Respect”.
“Over the years, Safer Internet Day has become a landmark event in the online safety calendar, and an action that has been taken up across the globe,” says Janice Richardson, Insafe co-ordinator.
“With this year’s theme of online rights and responsibilities, we aim to engage all stakeholder groups – children and young people, parents, carers and educators, and industry and the third sector – to raise awareness that we all have a shared responsibility to make the Internet a safer, and better, place for all.”
“Connect with Respect” was created to help inform, educate and advise users on how to improve their personal safety while surfing online, taking responsibility for their own actions while also respecting the rights of others. One of the main issues of online safety is cyber-bullying, which is increasingly becoming a serious concern and can happen online or on mobile phones.
It’s important for adults to educate their children in online etiquette to ensure they avoid talking to strangers or accepting friend requests from people they don’t know, and to limit their time allowed online or by restricting the apps they download on their mobile phones to prevent such things from happening.
Marian Merritt, Norton’s Internet Safety Advocate, has provided the following top 10 tips for parents and care givers for ensuring young people remain protected online:
* Don’t give out personal information – don’t put personal details such as a home address, telephone numbers or parent’s work address online as cybercriminals can use this information to create a fake profile with details.
* What goes online stays online – use privacy settings to make sure only friends and family can see photos users post. Avoid posting holiday plans as criminals have been known to track movements.
* Check security and privacy settings – make sure social network privacy settings are secured so only friends can see personal information and use privacy settings to restrict who can see posts, videos and photos.
* Password safety – sharing a password with parents is a sensible idea, but avoid sharing password with friends, even if they promise they won’t tell anyone. When setting a password, make sure it isn’t something people may guess such as a pet’s name. Use a mixture of letters, numbers and upper and lower case characters.
* Always protect mobile device – make sure a mobile phone is pin-protected so all personal information stored on it is safe. Download a security app which allows users to remotely wipe any personal data, should a mobile be lost or stolen.
* Don’t talk to strangers online or offline – don’t meet up with strangers and let parents know if a stranger has tried to get in contact with users online. Often people users speak to online may not be who they say they are, so only share personal details on social media sites with friends, family and people users already know in the “real” world.
* Listen to the adults who know – adults will always be worried about children. Help set their mind at rest and avoid chatting online with strangers or using the Internet so long that real world activities and friends are neglected.
* Be wary of unsecured or unknown Web sites – when shopping online, use reputable and known retailers. Make sure any transactions users make only take place across secure Web pages, which users can identify from the padlock sign in browser address bar and where the address says https.
* Be careful what links are clicked on – avoid clicking links in an e-mail, instant message or on a social network unless users are sure the message is from someone they know. Cybercriminals have been known to hack into friends’ e-mail accounts and social networks to send e-mails or post messages claiming they are in trouble and asking users to transfer them money.
Don’t believe it if it sounds suspicious or offers something unrealistic.
* Make sure security software is up to date – security software is now available on all types of devices; mobile phones, tablets and PCs. Make sure users have the latest security software on their devices to stay protected at all times.
“Safer Internet Day is an annual reminder of how careful we need to be when we are online,” says Merritt.
“Norton is encouraging individuals to manage their children’s growing online independence by educating them on the many serious dangers on the Internet and to ensure they can surf the Web knowing they are protected from the threats out in cyberspace today.”
Make sure when connecting to the Internet that users do it in a safe and secure manner to keep personal information and devices protected.