Being Internet Smart
by Brenda Hainey
November 06, 2008
BE SMART AND SAFE ON THE INTERNET
Bebo, Myspace, Facebook, oh, my. What a great time to be a kid, right? Well, maybe not, if your child is using any of these non-school, unsponsored web sites without supervision. These sites CAN be a lot of fun and a great way to socialize with friends, but they can be dangerous and harmful if they are not TOTALLY SUPERVISED. As we all know, kids can be very cruel and hurtful; and the use of the Internet has given a whole new meaning to this. It will take all of us to make sure kids are safe while on the Internet.
Students are NOT allowed to enter any socializing net works while on a school computer. If they have Internet access anywhere else, the school district has no control over what is said or done on any of these sites. Please supervise your student’s use of the Internet. Keep the computer in a room where you can see what they are doing and what they are saying.
Below, you will find some helpful information from an Internet safety site. I have included the address please feel free to acess this very useful website and read all of the information. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
RVMS Computer Lab Manager
First rule of smart surfing? Remain as anonymous as possible. That means keeping all private information private. Here are some examples of private information that you should never give out on the Internet:
Social Security number
names of family members
credit card numbers
Most credible people and companies will never ask for this type of information online. So if someone does, it's a red flag that they may be up to no good.
Think carefully before you create an email address or screen name. Web experts recommend that you use a combination of letters and numbers in both and that you don't identify whether you're male or female.
In chat rooms, use a nickname that's different from your screen name. That way, if you ever find yourself in a conversation that makes you uncomfortable, you can exit without having to worry that someone knows your screen name and can track you down via email. Some people who hang out with their friends online set up private chat rooms where only they and the people they invite can enter to chat.
Experts recommend that people keep online friendships in the virtual world. Meeting online friends face to face carries more risks than other types of friendships because it's so easy for people to pretend to be something they're not when you can't see them or talk in person.
If you ever get involved in a chat room conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable or in danger for any reason, exit and tell a parent or other adult right away so they can report the incident. You can also report it to the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at www.missingkids.com — they have a form for reporting this type of incident called CyberTipline. They will then see that the info is forwarded to law enforcement officials for investigation.
It's not just strangers who can make you feel uncomfortable online. Cyberbullying refers to cruel or bullying messages sent to you online. These might be from former friends or other people you know. They can be irritating and, in some cases, even frightening.
If you get these bullying messages online, it's often better to ignore them rather than answer them. Cyberbullies, just like other bullies, may be angry or disturbed people and may be looking for attention or a reaction.
Fortunately, most people never experience cyberbullying. But if you're getting cyberbullied, ignoring it doesn't make it go away, get help from a parent, school counselor, or another trusted adult may be a good idea. This is especially true if the cyberbullying contains threats.