February 10th is Safer Internet Day.
Everyday, no matter what age we are, more and more people are becoming digitally connected. This means that we have to become more aware of safety precautions online.
I welcome a very timely guest post by contributor Mary Sullivan with some excellent tips on cyber-safety for all ages:
Whether you’re 8 or 80, everyone can benefit from education on Internet and mobile protection. However, the best way to relay that information depends on the person’s age group. Children need visuals, teenagers need a place of their own, and parents need education on how to help their children. Thankfully, there are new resources designed specifically with age in mind. Take a look at these different programs that are helping people of all ages stay safer online.
What better way to reach a child than through the fun visuals a cartoon can provide? From of this idea, the recent “Be Share Aware” campaign was created, a cartoon that warns younger children about the dangers of sharing personal information on social media and sexting.
The animation “I Saw Your Willie” was published online by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children or NSPCC. The story follows two young boys, Alex and Sam, as they take goofy pictures on their phones. When they get the idea that it would be funny to take a picture of Alex’s “willie” and send it to a girl in their class, they soon realize it was a big mistake. The picture spreads throughout the school and Alex is humiliated.
The story was designed to explain the dangers of sharing personal information and private photos in an informative, albeit humorous, way that a younger child can comprehend.
Teens don’t want to be around younger kids, and they don’t want to be around their parents, either. They want their own space. Blame it on their desire for solitude, their hormones, or all the changes they’re dealing with at that time, but all of those reasons plus common self-esteem issues during that age make them even more vulnerable to engaging in riskier online activities.
NS Teens has games, quizzes, videos, and comics aimed at helping teenagers make safer, more informed choices online and with their phones. It’s a safe place for teens to visit with or without supervision, which gives them the independence they crave and resources they need while being a fun place to spend their time online.
Even parents can use a refresher course in online and mobile protection, whether it’s their own use or their children’s. To help navigate through different forms of wireless safety, Verizon Wireless created a “Teaching Cyber Safety” breakdown for parents that’s available on their website.
Their list suggests everything from avoiding clicking on or downloading unfamiliar files and attachments, to teaching children about inappropriate behavior on and off the web. But one of the most important points they push is opening a line of communication between parents and children.
“Talk to your kids about technology and about Internet safety in particular,” contributor Silvia Moreno urges. “Agree on a set of rules for using the computer and mobile devices. Surf the web together and stay involved. Your kids’ online activity will increase and become more complex as they get older and technology continues to evolve. Keep the conversation going.”
Selfies aren’t always safe, and all your shares aren’t always secure. No matter your age, it’s important to further your own education on the issue of online and mobile safety. In doing so, you can encourage and educate younger generations to do the same.
Special Contributor: Mary Sullivan