General Internet Common Sense
- Think about what information you put in your online profiles. Consider using a nickname, making your profile private, and only adding friends whom you know in real life onto your friends list
- Remember there are laws to keep you safe online, just like in real life, and you should report issues like racist comments, bullying, or sexually inappropriate comments to agencies like the Internet Watch Foundation or CEOP. You can also call ChildLine on 0800 1111
- Remember that any information that you give out online can be easily copied and stored, and can be misused by others. Always consider this when you post photos or personal information online
- Never meet someone you know online in real life without telling an adult. If you are going to meet an Internet friend, take an adult with you, and meet in a public place
Viruses and Spyware
To be secure online check that:
- You have an up-to-date anti-virus programme which offers automatic updates
- Backup your data: your notes, homework, emails
- Do not open emails with strange subject lines and from people you do not know;
- similarly do not accept suspicious looking files via Messenger or Email
- Use a firewall and anti-spyware programmes to monitor and remove spyware. Keep the programmes updated. Get Net Wise
- Keep your operating system updated. For the Windows operating system, see: Microsoft Windows Update
- If you have a wireless network, encrypt it and make it invisible or others can use your bandwidth and sometimes, get at your files
Spam mails and Scam mails
Unwanted junk email is known as spam. Why do we get spam? Because someone somewhere still buys Viagra online or thinks they’ve won the lottery! To manage spam and scam emails:
- Have two or three email addresses, for e.g. one for online shopping or forums, one for friends and family; and one for work
- Have a mixture of letters and numbers in your email address. These are harder to target by spammers
- Check these sites before you forward a hoax email: http://www.vmyths.com and http://www.snopes.com
- Do not click the unsubscribe link in marketing emails from people or companies you do not know
- Use appropriate anti-spam filters in your email software, or software tools. See http://www.getnetwise.org
- Never respond to phishing scam emails: when someone pretends to be from PayPal, Ebay or your bank asking you to update your account details
Social Networking Sites (SNS)
Social Networking Sites like Bebo, Facebook, MySpace and Piczo are great fun to use, but here are a few pointers to remember, to keep your personal information as safe as possible:
- Set up your privacy settings so that YOU decide which areas of your profile can be accessed by others. In some cases, through the applications that you add to your SNS, other people can access your personal information
- Always monitor the comments and entries posted on your pages and remember to be responsible and courteous online
- If you get contact requests, comments or messages from people which make you uncomfortable, talk to a trusted adult. You can also report this to the website owners
File sharing and Copyright
Everyone loves to file share to get music files. But here are some points to take note of:
- Downloading and sharing copyright music is illegal. To learn more about the law and music downloads, and where you can buy music legally and cheaply in the UK, visit www.pro-music.org
- You can also listen to music online at sites like http://launch.yahoo.com and http://www.last.fm
- File sharing using services like Lime Wire can expose you to inappropriate content, viruses, legal prosecution, security risks and invasion of privacy
- Remember, there are rules on the Internet and unlike what most people think, material online is automatically copyright unless otherwise stated
- Always credit the source of your information. Plagiarism isn’t cool!
Chatting with your friends online using Messenger programmes is fun! However there are a few things to bear in mind:
- Unless you have made your profile private, and only available to your contact list, other people can access it, so watch what personal information you put on it
- Always tell an adult if a conversation online makes you feel uncomfortable. There are laws against grooming, harassment and bullying, and you have the right to feel secure. If someone is bullying or harassing you via text chat, keep the chat logs as evidence
- Block people who make you uncomfortable
- If someone appears to be sending you a file that you are not expecting, be wary, as it might contain a virus
- Always log off after you have finished, or someone can pretend to be you online
Camera Phones and Bluetooth
With mobile phones having cameras, Bluetooth and Internet, you can be connected wherever you go. Here are a few things to bear in mind:
Some people use Bluetooth to harass, send files and bully others. Only turn Bluetooth on when it is necessary or use the ‘hidden’ visibility setting. Use a cartoon name or character for your phone
Use a phone pin code to protect your personal messages and phone data and prevent unauthorised Bluetooth browsing
If you receive harassing or obscene messages, tell an adult immediately, and do not forward these. Keep the messages as evidence that can be used when making a report
Have you ever lost money on your mobile phone through junk texts? If you receive any suspicious messages, and want them stopped, text back the word STOP. PhonepayPlus has useful information on this and more - see http://www.phonepayplus.org.uk
True or False
Anyone and everyone can have a website. This means that just because a website looks official, it may not be! Always ask yourself:
- What is the aim of the site?
- Is it a personal site or an official site?
- Who owns the website address? See http://lookup.ws/
- Are there contact details on the site?
- How often is the information updated?
- Does the information have a bias for e.g. is the site trying to sell you something?
- Can its content be checked against other sources?
Useful Numbers and Websites