THE 11th Safer Internet Day will be celebrated worldwide today. The theme for the day is Let’s create a better internet together!. In today’s digital world, we rely on our mobile devices more and more to access the internet, find information, and connect with friends and family. But with this, it becomes critical that we know how to be good digital citizens, how to manage our online reputations, and how to make personal safety a priority on a mobile device.
Tips for mobile and Internet safety:
Think before you share a thought or photo. Imagine your grandmother, employer, or teacher receiving it. Is what you’re sending suitable for anyone to see?
Protect your personal information. When you send email, texts, photos, or instant messages to people who are not trusted friends or family, don’t give out personal information they could use either to find your physical location or to exploit you.
Control negativity. Think carefully about whom to communicate with and whom to ignore. Most social media sites let you block people. If you receive abusive or harassing messages online, report the abuse where and when you see it.
Download applications only from trusted sources. When downloading software from third parties, be sure it’s only from developers you trust. Read their terms of service and privacy policies to really understand what permissions you’re giving them when you download their apps.
Never text while driving. You put your life and the lives of others in danger when you try to read, type, and drive at the same time. Texting and driving is illegal in some countries.
An increasing challenge is the rising incidents of self/peer exploitation, commonly referred to as sexting. Self/peer exploitation is generally defined as youth creating, sending or sharing sexual images and/or videos with peers via the Internet and/or electronic devices (i.e. through cell phone messaging, messaging apps, social networking sites, etc.).
What should parents know about this issue?
Be aware that adolescents do not typically share experiences they are embarrassed or ashamed of with their parents — don’t assume you would know if there was a problem.
Youth will make errors in judgment — it is all a part of growing up. When an adolescent does make a mistake, use this as an opportunity for her/him to learn and grow. Encourage her/him to separate the error in judgment from how s/he defines her/himself.
The circulation of sexual images/videos among peers and their distribution via the Internet can have short- and long-term impacts. The effects will vary according to an adolescent’s personality, temperament, available support systems, and resiliency.
Conversations parents need to have with their adolescent:
Discuss the difference between healthy relationships (i.e. loving, respectful, caring) and unhealthy relationships (i.e. manipulative, intimidating, pressuring). Remind your teen that pressure from a boyfriend/girlfriend to engage in sexual conversations or share sexual images/videos does not constitute a caring relationship.
Explain the importance of establishing and respecting personal boundaries when using technology. Both the information your teen has shared and the information others have shared with your teen should be protected and handled with respect (i.e. not shared with others). Emphasize that this continues to apply once a relationship has come to an end.
Discuss the types of problems that may arise from sharing private and intimate information, including images and videos electronically. Once information is sent, it can be easily misused. This may include the recipient showing it to friends, sending or posting it online, or using it to manipulate the other person, for example, to engage in further sexual activity.
Teach your adolescent that it may be illegal for people to manufacture, possess or distribute naked or sexually explicit pictures/videos of people under 18 years of age.
For more information go to www.cybertip.ca. If you would like an internet safety presentation for your community group or class call Cst. Angela Rabut, Community Policing/Media Relations Terrace RCMP at (250)638-7429.