Thursday, December 9, 2010

Safe Internet - 10 golden rules

Safe internet is of utmost importance. No matter the age of the kid or young person, there should be a certain amount of freedom within boundaries.
Safety is not only a matter of devices and control.
Children should develop an inner need and attitude to be safe.
Both the school- and the home-environment should teach a child how to behave online in such a way that it's able to safeguard it's own privacy and safety, both online and offline, the safety and privacy of others, and the safety of the computerequipment.

A safe computer

Safe internet starts with a safe computer.
That means that each computer should have a proper firewall, virusscanner and spywarescanner. Set them to update and scan each day.
In the settings it can be arranged that everytine the browser closes the temporal files will be emptied.
Block sites which are unwanted.
Some browsers allow add-ons that block advertisements. Use them well.


One of the best ways to make people aware of the dangers and problems of internet is to inform them.
As children are younger and younger when they go on internet, information should be given age-appropriate, clear, and with rules that allow no exceptions.

When children grow up, these rules need adjustments.
Information and explanations should be repeated and the dangers of not following the rules should be explained well enough. Young people tend to get curious by what they're not allowed to do. A booklet with paper and magazine articles about what happens with people when they not follow the basic rules of internet is a perfect means to convey information and rules when these young people reach a certain age.
Ofcourse the parents, teachers and others are role models, so they should behave accordingly.


1. Never ever provide your real name on internet.
Use an allias you like.
As always the law gets insight from real life and creates rules afterwards. Some sites state that they should give real life information according to the law.
Make children aware that sites which require real name and other private information should not do so, and they should consult the parents what to do.
As small children won't use bank accounts, taxforms and online sites that require true private data this rule applies always.
Schools often make the mistake that they use schedules mentioning the names of the pupils. These schedules should be behind passwords, or the school can use the aliasses children use online. Pupilnumbers seem to be unfriendly, but they guarantee more safety online.

2. Never ever give the name or other information about yourself, your family and friends online.
Not in mail, not in blogs, not at all.
So don't mention where your father works. No names, no addresses, no phone numbers.
Don't mention the name of your school, nor place a link to your school on your site. Those who know you, know where to go. If necessary only provide the extension of the url, so family members and friends know where to go.

3. Your passwords should not be given to anyone but your parents.
Keep them in a booklet beside the computer, so you won't forget them.
Allow your parents to know the password too, so they know you trust them and they can trust you.
When you're requested to give your password and you're not sure if you should give it...ask your parents.

4. Don't save private information on your computer.
When you need to keep certain information available. Use the booklet beside your computer.

5. Never agree to meet someone without others in a chatroom, unless you're absolutely sure that person can be trusted. The basic rules of internet apply there too.

6. Never agree to meet someone offline unless your parents are involved and one of them goes with you.
Because there are people with bad intentions who  act like a child, or act like they're your age to make you believe you're safe, make an appointment at a public place and never ever go without someone else.

7. Never send pictures or place them on your site without your parent's consent.
Pictures often reveal private information and enable criminals to find you.
Older young people often attend social networking sites like hyves, facebook and such and love to share their photos.
It's fun and others do it too. But do you know that quite some young people didn't get a place for practical training or a job because their potential employer had a good look at a person's behaviour at those sites?
When you really feel the need to share photos with friends, there's no need to make the whole world watch them too.

8. When people or messages make you uncomfortable inform your parents.
If necessary they'll inform people who can take action, like forummoderators, siteowners or even the service providers.
Ofcourse you'll behave perfectly OK online too. So you won't bully, won't use use improper language, won't gossip, etc etc.

9. Don't click any buttons that make you agree with installing something, or buttons you don't expect on a site.
Often they contain virusses or trojans which will infect the computer.
Most problems you'll encounter at sites with games. Sometimes unintentionally clicking a picture brings you to a site that makes you press a button to agree you want to leave that site. Just close your browser. If necessary use taskmanagement to do so.

10. Keep your emailadresses in a booklet, not in your emailprogram.
A worm can infect the computers of all your contacts, a hacker can access all your contacts.
It's best to get an emailaddress online with a trusted provider, like gmail or yahoo.
Even in the emailenvironment you should behave properly and refrain from improper language, as many emailproviders keep the mails for future reference.

11. Stay OK.

Yes I know: the stay OK rule is a number eleven in a list of ten.
But it's important you won't make the mistakes others made.

So don't stay online too long.

Use a good chair, place the keyboard and screen at proper heights and adjust those heights often when you're growing.

Don't eat when you're online, because it is very habit forming and it makes you overeat without even realising it.

Homework first.

Be aware of the fact that all information online, whether it's given through chat, MSN, in forums, on sites, in comments or anywhere else can be used by those who don't have good intentions.
Posting somewhere reveals your emailaddress.
So it's a good idea to keep a special emailadress for school, family and real life friends, and have another emailadress for your activities online. Some even use a special emailadress when they go to a new place on internet.

Be aware that all laws apply online too. So you can't take an image or photo somewhere and post it on your blog because you like it.  Copyrightviolations can result in legal action against you.

Remember that in case you find unwanted information online, someone steals your blogtexts, bullies you, etc etc. there are people who can deal with it. Don't hesitate to contact them or have your parents contact them.
Sometimes young people want to solve their own problems, which is indeed a sign of development, but when you've caused problems to your computer, don't go to the first forum you see. Let someone deal with it who understands computers. Ofcourse you can learn a lot then.

Don't forget your real life friends or to have fun with your family.


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