The internet is one of the 5 greatest inventions of all time.
The good and bad thing about it is that it allows for news to travel fast. Lies travel to. It is said that a lie can travel halfway around the world via the internet in the time it takes to tie your shoes.
A social media post you did as a teen can haunt you later in life. A child, teen or adult can be targeted by a cyber predator with harmful, even tragic consequences. Everyone must learn the fundamentals of digital citizenship and safety to explore the online world with confidence.
A cell phone or PC for a child is a privilege, not a necessity. Necessities are love, food, oxygen, clothing, schooling and safety. Privileges should always come with rules and safety measures.
Monitoring your child’s online behaviour is not helicoptering; it is parenting.
The Bureau of Youth Research released the following statistics at UNISA ¹ in 2017 concerning the nature, extent and impact of bullying among secondary school learners in Gauteng.
Learners who shared personal information with known friends online/offline
• Shared cell phone password (66.1%)
• Shared social network login details (33.9%)
• Shared email login details (16.8%)
Learners who shared personal information with an unknown person met online
• Shared cell phone password (25.5%)
• Shared social network log in details (20.7%)
• Shared email login details (8.1%)
58.7% of all learners shared personal information online and offline. (Bureau of Market Research. Research Report No 479. 2017)
Guidelines for cybersafety
- It’s not a good idea to give your child a cell phone before they are 13 yrs old. That is the minimum age required to be on social media as well. Why not? Bill Gates Says This Is the ‘Safest’ Age to Give a Child a Smartphone
- Install Google Safe search on the device before giving it to them, to protect them from harmful content.
- Install a password that only you know on the device to block access to pornography.
- Tell them you will check their search history every month. If they delete their search history, you will confiscate the device. Kids only delete search histories when they have been on forbidden sites.
- Please help them to choose a strong password. Test the password on www.howsecureismypassword
- See that your child set strong privacy settings
- Don’t let them use their real first name or middle name.
- Never let them post their location online. Turn location services off.
- Teach them never to post online that they are home alone.
- Never let them post any contact information online.
- They may not add any person as a contact that they don’t know personally.
- They must ask your permission to download any app. They may only do so once you have approved the app.
- Teach them to report abusive posts or harassment immediately to you.
- Teach them not to post the following: the family’s full birth dates, their relationship status, current location, and pictures of your kids with tagged names.
Kids: Play the game!
- Treat everyone with respect. Always be polite online as you are in person. Stop and think before you say or do or post something that could hurt someone.
- Stick to safer sites. Some sites have age restrictions. Visiting unsavoury sites will show up on the search history.
- Guard your passwords. Someone can sign in as you, and you will never control what they do or say. Anyone will think it’s you. For that reason, do not share your password with anyone except your parents.
- Limit what you share with online friends. It is best to think first and type second when you are telling stuff about yourself online. Anything you post can be used against you by bullies.
- Talk to an adult you trust if you are being bullied. They can make a plan to stop the bullying.
Neither respond to nor forward cyberbullying messages.
- Be friendly to a bullied fellow learner. Your kindness and friendship can make the bullied learners feel included and welcome, as they often feel left out and alone. Friendships can also help prevent bullying because bullied learners are less likely to pick on learners when they are with friends.
- Refuse to pass along cyberbullying messages or participate in the bullying incident by laughing at it. This behaviour can encourage bullying to continue. Rather side with the bullied person and take a stance against the bullies.
- Get involved in the bullying prevention initiative at school.
- Keep evidence of cyberbullying (e.g. save and print screenshots, email and text messages). Use this evidence to report to web or cell phone service providers.
Tools to help you understand and manage your tech use.
- Undertake bullying assessment in your school, and develop and implement a whole-school bullying prevention programme. This can include establishing coordinating task teams, learner advisory group, institute prevention rules, policies and guidelines related to bullying.
- Train staff in bullying prevention.
- Promote empathy, ethical decision-making skills and respect among learners.
- Teach learners about ethical and legal standards for online activities.
- Intervene immediately to bullying behaviour. This may show learners that bullying is taken seriously.
- Model respectful behaviour when you intervene in bullying incidents.
- Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs.
- Involve bullied learners to make amends or repairing the situation. This helps them to see how their actions affect others.
- Encourage learners to keep their passwords safe and not share them with friends.
The Internet can be a handy tool for young people. But instant messaging, chat rooms, emails and social networking sites can also bring trouble – from cyber-bullying to more serious Internet dangers, including exposure to sexual predators. Cyber safety is trying to be safe on the internet. It is the knowledge of maximizing the user’s personal safety and security risks to private information and property associated with using the internet, and the self-protection from computer crime in general.
What you need to know:
- If you post something online, it is published and becomes public content.
- Once it is posted, it is there to stay. Nothing is ever really gone from the internet, even if you deleted it. You might not be able to see the deleted info, but it’s still stored somewhere.
- Online anonymity is a lie – your IP (internet protocol) address can give you away. Exceptions
- Your freedom of speech ends, the moment it violates another person’s human rights in any way.
How do they know it was me?
Do you remember when you got your phone, you had to go through a long registration & setup to get started? Every device has a unique identifier like a fingerprint. Every time your device connects to the internet, it associates 100% of your activity with your device. It links every transaction to you. The internet never forgets, and everything you do online is tracked – whether you permitted it or not.
How to stay safe on social media
Password: Use a strong password. NEVER EVER share your password with anyone. Check the strength of your password on howsecureismypassword.net
Privacy settings: Set your settings so that only your contacts can see your information. Never set your settings to ”everyone”. Remember, every time Facebook redesigns their platform; your settings might go back to the default settings. Check often that your settings are still private.
Check-in: Put your location, on-off. By checking in everywhere, you move gives predators or criminals information on where you are. They can use the information to break into your home if you are not home, or home alone, or abduct you from the location where you have checked in. Remember that a child goes missing every 5 hours in South Africa = average of 5 children every day!
Timeline: Are you aware that universities and potential employers scan your ”digital CV”? If you sit with a glass of wine on every second post, your potential employer will be advised that you might have a drinking problem and they won’t even interview you. Likewise, a university might not accept you because your digital CV portrays a party animal if you have posted loads of partying pics on your timeline. Be aware of the image you portray of yourself online. Keep most of your life private.
Sharing & liking: Be careful what you share and like. You might feel very strongly to share a post on politics or to shame a person. Once you shared it, you have no idea what the next person will comment. It might be a racist or defamatory comment. Legal action can be taken against everyone who shared or commented on a post. Also, remember that more than 40% of all Facebook posts are fake. There are people out there who post fake information to stir people up. Always check where the information comes from. Google the information to double-check whether it is true or false. The best advice is just to read a post and scroll past without liking, sharing or commenting.
Tagging: Set your settings to approve all tags. You don’t want to be implicated in something if you weren’t even there.
Posts: Set your settings so that only your friends/contacts can see your posts. You don’t want a paedophile that stalks young boys and girls online to like your post on your last beach holiday.
Groups: Be aware of what is posted in groups. If you like a post – and someone comes later and makes a defamatory comment – you have to distance yourself from that comment by stating that you are dissatisfied with the comment. If you don’t, it can be viewed that you agree with the comment – and you can be held legally responsible for what was said online. Rather leave a group immediately that violates another person’s basic human rights. Best practice: Avoid using like buttons. Avoid leaving comments – you can think it – but don’t post it.
Playing games: If you play a game posted on Facebook or complete a quiz – it gives 3rd parties access to your information. This is how Facebook and its advertisers make money. They need you to click on their post. The more clicks, the more money they make. Their excuse is that they want to present you with more specific online content – for example, if you looked at clothing, you would notice more and more clothing adverts jumping up when surfing Facebook. If you don’t want them to have information on your interests and likes, don’t click on adverts, quizzes or games.
An internal Facebook report leaked this year, for example, revealed that the company could identify when teens feel “insecure”, “worthless” and “need a confidence boost”. Tech companies can exploit such vulnerabilities to keep people hooked; manipulating, for example, when people receive “likes” for their posts, ensuring they arrive when they are likely to feel vulnerable, in need of approval, or maybe just bored.
Blocking: Know how to block and delete unwanted contacts.
Delete: WhatsApp now gives you the option for the first time to delete a post that you wrongfully posted – you can choose between ”delete for me” or ”delete for everyone”.
Are there apps that can pose dangers?
The Secret Calculator App looks like an innocent calculator app on your child’s I phone or Android device. Actually, this app is used to hide files, photos and videos.
What is the Secret Photo Calculator App?
This app acts as a photo vault to store all password-protected files, and can only be viewed inside the app.
As a parent who is unaware of this app, you will never expect a simple calculator-looking app to hide files. If you want to access this, you will need the password to open the photos from your child.
You will not be able to view photos or videos in the default I phone or Android Gallery.
It is one of the most effective apps to hide photos and videos.
How does the Secret Photo Calculator app hide photos on an I phone or Android device?
- Open the Calculator+ app.
- Once inside, it looks like a normal calculator. You can do subtraction, division and other mathematical functions with the app.
- To access the hidden files, you will need to enter the numeric codes, and it ends with a percentage (%) sign something your child might set up when they first install the app.
- Your child might also use a fingerprint scan to unlock the files.
- Once you entered the right password, you can then view all the hidden files.
- Calculator+ app can display numerous media types (such as .jpg, .gif, .bmp and .png files), videos (.mp4, .avi, .mkv, .wmv, .flv)
- To transfer the files from your gallery to the app, you just need to open the Calculator App and a simple drag-and-drop feature will allow you to do this.
If your child upgrades to the premium feature, they can store the photos in a cloud and get unlimited storage.
- Once your child transfers the photos from I phone Camera Roll to the Calculator app, the photo will disappear from the Camera Roll.
Other apps to hide photos
- Calculator+ is not the only app available to hide images. There are many apps in the Play Store or the Apple app store.
- Some of the popular ones are KeepSafe, Calculator Vault, Private Photos Video Vault and many more.
- To know if your child is having one of these apps, you can log in to their app store and type in the word ‘Calculator’, ‘Secret’, or ‘Photo Hider’.
- If it shows, ‘Open’ means your child has one of these apps. But if it prompts ‘Install’ it means that they do not have the app
Snapchat is a free video and photo-sharing app that kids love.
- Although kids think that a snap disappears within seconds, any snap can be saved by a screenshot and shared.
- Snap Chat agreement grants Snap Chat access to your address book and contacts. If you agree, you have just shared private contact information with your family and friends without their permission.
- What you say on Snap Chat is in the public domain forever, even if the pic disappears within seconds.
Some programs that open Snap Chat outside the app, allow recipients to save messages without the sender knowing permanently.
- If your location services are turned on (Snap Chat map), users can see what their friends are doing and locate where they are on a map anywhere in the world. You can zoom in to the very street address. Keep yourself in Ghost Mode.
It is a social site that allows people who find you interesting to ask you anonymous questions ”so they can know you better”. This is not an app your child should have on their phone.
- You are not as anonymous as you think you are. Remember any online presence is traceable.
- It is a paedophile haven.
- No login is required.
- No ability to ban users.
- No way to find out who said what.
It is a live-stream platform from where you can broadcast your life to the world as it happens. This is not an app your child should have on their phone.
- Kids take videos of every aspect of their mundane lives and broadcast it.
- The site is full of paedophiles that hunt children.
Instagram is a mobile, desktop, and Internet-based photo-sharing application and service that allows users to share pictures and videos either publicly or privately.
- If your account is not set to private, freaky people worldwide can see every pic you post.
- Geo-tagging can reveal your location.
- All your shared photos can also count as “too much information.”
- It is a platform that is ripe for gossip and harassment. You can get bullied by what you posted.
- The more likes a picture gets, the more popular and validated a person feels.
- This, of course, has its dark sides, as no likes or negative comments can lower a person’s self-esteem
- Exposure to online sexual content among secondary school learners in Gauteng (Technical Report). Research report No, 479. 2017. Bureau of Market Research
Selfies, Sexts and Smartphones: A teenager’s online survival guide. SADLEIR, EMMA. 2017. ISBN 9781776092758