Online Safety

Maurice Williamson Communications

Online Safety

The Internet is a great place to be, but there are some risks. Some of the people you meet may not be who they seem to be. Some could try to cheat or hurt you. You may also come across things which are against the law - even for you to have ion your computer. To play it safe, let's follow these guidelines.

Don't give out personal information without your parents' or teacher's permission. That includes things like your address, telephone number or the school you go to, or details about your parents.

Never agree to get together with anyone you meet on the Internet without checking with your parents first.

If you are going to meet with someone you have met on the Internet, make sure it is in a public place and take your mother or father along.

Never send anyone your picture or anything else without checking with your parents or teacher.

Tell your parents or teacher right away if you come across information that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Don't reply to messages which are mean or make you feel uncomfortable. Instead, tell your parents or teacher right away so that they can contact the online service.

Agree with your parents about the time of day you can go online, how long you can stay online, and what sorts of areas you can visit.

Protecting your children

The best way to make sure your children make wise use of the Internet is to apply good sense and sound parenting.

If the Internet is going to be a part of your child's life, make it a part of your own. Spend time with your children online, just as you do in other areas of their lives. Get to know your children's online friends, just as you would their other friends. By keeping the computer in a family room rather than a bedroom you can make time on the Internet more of a family activity.

Make yourself familiar with the Internet Service Provider your child uses and the types of information on offer. The provider may offer ways of blocking out objectionable material (blocking and filtering software isn't yet that effective).

Set your children reasonable rules and guidelines for computer use. Discuss these, post them near the computer as a reminder, and make sure they are followed. (If your child is spending long periods of time on bulletin boards or other online services late at night, this could hint at a potential problem.)

Talk to your children if you are worried about their online activities.

Protecting yourself and your family

Never give out identifying information such as home address, school name, or telephone number in a public arena such as chat or bulletin boards, or on a Web page, and be sure you are dealing with someone you and your child know and trust before giving it out via email. (It is easy to unthinkingly include this information in your email footer.) Think carefully before revealing any personal information such as age, marital status, or financial information. Consider using a nickname rather than your own.

Not everything you read on the Internet can be relied on. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Phenomenal earnings, commissions for recruiting others, and joining fees are some of the warning signs. And don't give out your credit card details unless you are certain who you are dealing with.

People may not be who they seem. That "12-year-old girl" could well be a 40-year-old man. Be wary of offers that involve going to a meeting or having someone visit your house.

Don't respond to messages or bulletin board items that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, threatening, or make you feel uncomfortable. Encourage your children to tell you if they encounter such messages. If either you or your child receives a message that is harassing, threatening, or of a sexual nature, send a copy to your service provider and ask for their help.

If you become aware that child pornography is either being viewed or sent, report this immediately to the Department of Internal Affairs, and notify your Internet Service Provider.

Finally, although using the Internet does carry some risks, we would not be printing this pamphlet if we did not feel these were worth taking. Entertaining, informing, educating and bringing people together across the planet, the Internet is becoming a valuable part of our everyday lives. Make the most of it.