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Be careful out there

Cyber Security

Posted on November 4, 2009

3 min read

Cyber-safety and the protection of personal identity

Did you know there is no global definition of cyber-safety? It is one of those new ‘buzz’ terms used a lot in the media, but one that is still not properly understood by a lot of people – at least that’s what I have found.

The term covers so much ground. Does cyber-safety mean having the latest anti-virus software loaded on your PC, or is it making sure you know what the kids are doing on the family computer, or is it about not giving away personal details to someone you met online?

It can be all this and more. Cyber-safety, as I relate to it, is about making sure that everyone can safely access information and expertise to allow them to get the most from their online experience.  It’s about acknowledging that there can be risks online, but it’s also about understanding how you can safely integrate wireless communication to live, work and relate to other people in this technological age.

An analogy I often compare cyber-safety to is driving a car. You don’t throw the keys of your car to your 16 year old and get them to work it out for themself.  You make sure that before they get behind the wheel of the car you teach them how to drive, the different hazards they may encounter and what road laws need to be obeyed.  I’m not saying that driving a mouse or keyboard can be as dangerous as driving a car, but I am saying it is important that all users of the internet appreciate that some risks exist if you don’t take appropriate precautions.

Like all parents, I am concerned about my kids online and work hard to educate them around the possibilities of being cyber-bullied, cyber-stalked, and becoming the victims of identity theft and even escalating mobile phone bills.

A recent Telstra survey showed that three out of four Australian children spend extra time online and use mobile phones during the school holidays. So as we start to think about Christmas and school holidays, I thought it was timely to share with you some tips to help us all protect our kids online.

Tips to protect kids online

  1. Keep the family computer in an open area where it can be monitored.
  2. Treat a mobile as you would the internet – online is online.
  3. Keep private information private – make sure your kids know not to give out personal details online without parental knowledge.
  4. Keep online friendships online – never let them go to meetings without parental supervision.
  5. Make sure your kids know what to do and where to go if they encounter cyber-bullying.
  6. Reinforce positive behaviour and values in the cyber world.

Related links

  • Cybersmart
    Cybersmart is a national cybersafety education program managed by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

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