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Making Good Decisions Online – Part Two

From Making Good Decisions Online – Available online on Folio

What Can I Do to Protect Myself?

Never reveal personally identifiable information to people you don’t know. This had already been said, but it's important. It can be very dangerous. Whether you're messaging, blogging, building your profile or sharing content, don’t give out your address, phone number or hangouts in the public domain. Never give out your email and password – except to your parents.

Do not post inappropriate pictures or other content. Think carefully about what you post. Would you share that picture or comment with your grandmother or great-aunty? If the answer is no, you probably shouldn’t post it!

Don't share personal information about your family or friends either. If this information is available on other websites, don't add links to those sites. Do not reply to inappropriate emails or messages. If you do respond, you'll just encourage the sender to send you more inappropriate material. Instead of responding, tell an adult you trust and get them to teach you how to block the sender. Most social media sites have a block function. Before you start using social media, learn how to block and report inappropriate behaviours.

Be skeptical about people you communicate with or add as a friend. It's easy for people to lie about who they are, what they want from you, and even how they know you. If you’re unsureabout someone’s intentions, maybe ask your parents or a friend to help you spot the lies.

If a stranger asks you personal questions, or is being rude or malicious, stop communicating with them – cut off all contact. Don't get dragged into a personal discussion or a fight. People like this are looking to start trouble. Block and report the user and tell an adult you trust straight away.

If an online stranger wants to meet you in real life, think very carefully. If you meet a stranger online, don't arrange to meet them in person. Not even in a crowded place. If the stranger is dangerous, they could follow you home. Instead, arrange to have them meet you first with your parents/guardians. If they are worth your friendship, this won't be a problem. If you still decide to meet a stranger without your parents around always be careful. Bring someone along with you. Make sure your parents or a trusted friend knows who you are meeting, when, and where. Meet in a public place, with other people around.

If you experience improper activity online – such as harassment, cyberbullying, hate speech, spamming, phishing and inappropriate content – report it. Don't be afraid to tell your parents and teachers about what happened. They are there to protect your safety. If they seem to overreact at first, explain that you understand online safety is important, and that's why you are telling them about this. Remember, a crime is a crime wherever it happens – online or offline. The police have sophisticated tools to conduct investigations online.

Make sure that your devices are loaded with up-to-date anti-virus software. Running regular system scans will ensure your devices can detect and delete viruses, malware, and other malicious software. Anti-virus software will warn you not to open suspicious websites and files.

Many files are unsafe. Some trigger annoying pop-up ads. Some conceal viruses. Some track everything you type, including email addresses, passwords, credit card numbers, and other private information. Criminals use this to steal your money or your identity, and to cause other problems. Before downloading files or software, ask your parents for help.

Follow the Internet use rules of your parents and school. If they set rules about your Internet use (which sites you can visit, how long you can stay online etc.), follow those rules. If your parents have installed safety tools, don’t try to disable or get around them. If you disagree with a rule, talk with them and explain why. If they trust you to follow their rules, they will probably feel more comfortable in relaxing the rules.

Remember that your posts will live forever online. Assume that every email, photo, video, blog or comment that you post will stay online forever. Many search engines copy and save web content, even after the original page has been taken down or changed. Before you post something, think about it. Would you really want your parents, teacher, or boss to see it? Also, would you want it to surface again in your life, many years from now? It is a bit like cave drawings that have lasted 10,000 years!

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