A safer, better internet

Children today are so comfortable with technology that they often know more than their parents when it comes to using computers, tablets, mobile phones and the internet. However, even when kids reach their teenage years, it’s essential to ensure that they are safe when browsing websites and using social networking channels.

If you want the internet to be a safer environment for young people – a secure place to learn, explore, grow, chat with friends, share photos and play – then please join kri8it in supporting Safer Internet Day (SID). This landmark annual event, the 11th in history, is happening today, Tuesday 11 February 2014.

SID is all about promoting the secure and responsible use of online technology and mobile phones among children and young people around the globe. The theme for this year is “Let’s create a better internet together” and the goal is to create a digital environment that is:

  • Governed by integrity, compliance and trust
  • Free from crime and behaviour that harms others
  • A place where personal information is protected
  • An environment where everyone and their different opinions are respected

Here are some ways that you as a parent, caregiver or teacher can assist in protecting young people online.

1. Supervision
Monitor their use of the internet either in person or via a content filter like Net Nanny or OpenDNS. If they are old enough to join social networking sites like Facebook, join their social communities. This is the best way to ensure they are not being bullied, exposed to harmful content or solicited by a stranger.

2. Personal information
Teach kids to protect their personal information by keeping screen names anonymous (no surnames or dates of birth) and never sharing their name, phone number, school details, address, passwords or any other personal details online. You could also ask your children to check with you before posting any photos or videos online.

3. Stranger danger
Explain to young people that not everyone they encounter online can be trusted and that they should never interact with strangers on the internet. They should always ask your permission before making a plan to meet up with an online friend; and they must never open an email or attachment from someone they don’t know as this could contain a virus or harmful content.

4. Blow the whistle
Encourage your kids to tell you if they receive an insulting message online or experience something that makes them feel uncomfortable. Make sure to report any incidents of cybercrime to the authorities – this way you can protect other young people as well.

5. Buying online
Ask your kids to never buy anything online or accept a prize without your permission. They could be tricked into breaking the law or sharing their personal information.

The internet can be a wonderful place for young people to learn new skills, gain new knowledge and have fun – but it is our responsibility as adults to ensure that the online environment is a safe and respectful space for kids. To show our support for the SID initiative, kri8it has signed the Internet Safety pledge at www.internetsafety.org.za and we’ll be spreading the word on social media using hashtags #SID2014 #ISCAFRICA. Why not join us?

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