10 Ways to use Facebook Safely

Talk to your child:

  • Ask your child not to post information that could help strangers find them
  • Ask your child not to post information on-line that could jeopardise their future
  • Ask your child to show you how they set up Facebook’s privacy settings, understand what they know and what their attitude is.
  • Get them to realise that whatever they post on-line can effect their relationships with other people both positive and negative, Facebook is part of the real world, not an abstract cyber world.  If your children are aggressive on-line it will come back to haunt them.

Use Facebook:

  • Become your child’s Facebook “friend”, it gives you the opportunity to see and understand what they are doing.
  • Read your child’s profile, ask yourself dispassionately what it says about your child.  Is it appropriate?
  • Don’t embarrass your child on-line, it is a very good way to get “un-friended”.

Facebook Settings:

  • Limit messages to friends and family only, so your child can only get e-mail messages from people they know.
  • Limit who can see your child’s profile.  Work through the privacy controls with your child.  Be especially careful with contact information.  Does your child really want all their friends friends to have their phone number?  Should their phone number be available at all?
  • Be aware of Facebook’s places setting.  This allows the chip in your child’s mobile phone to show the world where they are.

If you would like to learn more you can read the excellent pdf, A Parents Guide to Facebook

Ever Changing World

It is an ever-changing world

So how do you bring up your children?

Safer Internet Day 2011

Safer internet day this year is on 8th February. This years theme is it isn’t a game it is your life.

Insafe publish some interesting facts on their website:

  • Gamers spend on average 8 hours weekly playng online.
  • Young people sleep 2 to 3 hours less per night than 10 years ago.
  • In January 2010, 18 million accounts were registered on Second Life.
  • 13 million players of World of Warcraft (WoW), the world’s largest MMORPG. (Massive multiplayer online role-playing game)
  • MMORPGs generated $1.5 billion in subscription revenues worldwide in 2008, forecast to reach $2.5 billion by 2012.
  • Up to 250,000 players are simultaneously online on WoW.
  • Transactions and sales of virtual goods in virtual worlds were estimated at $18 billion in 2009.

Have you ever heard of an MMORPG?

Maybe you should have

Here is how you can find out more.

The Word According to the F.B.I.

One of the most helpful articles on child safety on-line is written by the FBI cyber division.

Amongst the advice it gives is to instruct your children:

    – to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on-line;
    – to never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know;
    – to never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number;
    – to never download pictures from an unknown source, as there is a good chance there could be sexually explicit images;
    – to never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing;
    – that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.

You can read the whole article here

Sharing is Sharing

In 2009 seven NHS staff were suspended after images were found of them playing the lying down game whilst on duty. Without going into the “right or wrong” debate what is clear is that they were stupid to share these images on Facebook.

The whole point of social networks is that they are social. Sharing any personal information is the modern-day equivalent of opening Pandora’s box. Once it’s shared it’s shared.

So the question is not “who are my children sharing with?” but “what are they sharing?”

Being you children’s friend on Facebook is one way to find out.

Disturbing Numbers

The London School of Economics has compiled some fascinating statistics about children’s internet usage.

Apparently “9% of children had a face-to-face encounter with someone they met on the Internet, and only one in eight found this a disturbing experience.”

Or to put it another way 1 in 100 children met a stranger on-line and it was a “disturbing”

I imagine the disturbed ratio is higher for parents.

Taking Candy from Babies

If I was unscrupulous there are a number of things I could do over the internet:

1.  I could trick people into giving me their credit card numbers, maybe with some “attractive” offers.
2.  I could spam people, probably with links to pornography sites.  It is a numbers game, there is always somebody who will click through.  Pay per click.
3.  I could create a list of people’s phone numbers and sell it to an outbound dialling scam, maybe promoting “free” holidays in the Caribbean
4.  I could circulate a virus that sends out e-mails to all the recipients contacts, probably with links to the pay-per-click pornography site. Or maybe one that causes people’s PCs to crash.
5.  I could also, if I was that way inclined, try to groom children online.

The only problem I face is getting the personal information from people.  Most adults realise that some offers are just too good to be true.  Children on the other hand are much more gulible.  And I get to children via their e-mail account.

Easy really, like taking candy from a baby.

Pragmatic Advice

The simplest advice is invariably best:

“Place your computer in an open room with the monitor facing out. This allows you to see and control what is occurring on the Internet.”

Obvious really

BSI Kitemark for Child Safety Online

Netintelligence has been awarded the first ever BSI kitemark for child safety online.  The award is for an internet filtering product that helps parents decide what their children can see online.  For software to meet the standard it must be be easy to install, easy to use and effective in blocking inappropriate online content such as pornography, violence and racism.

You can get a 30 day free trial at their website.  The full product costs £50 a year.

Is it any good?

Personally I think if you need to have software to time bar internet access for your 10-year-old then the Internet is the least of your problems, but maybe I am a bit Victorian in my outlook.  More pragmatically you could also try Google’s safe search functionality.

I’ll download the software and let you know.