by Staff

Social Networks

May 12, 2017 in Internet Safety by Staff

Sometimes a good idea can turn into something very bad. Social Networking is a good example of this. When it was created it was so that people could share thoughts and ideas with like minded people and keep in touch with distant family. Then it evolved into the monster it is today. It is heavily involved in every aspect of your life now even if you choose not to use it.

How many times do potential employers base their hiring decisions on what they see on social media rather than on the resume? How many stories are there of people losing their jobs, health insurance coverage and even their relationships because of something on social media that seemed totally innocent at the time? It’s obscene the level of personal privacy we have given up in the 21st century and I think most of us do not even realize it has happened.

When we post on the internet we think we are safe and secure in our own living rooms or offices. Perhaps we are sitting in our underwear or in a proper business suit, it really doesn’t matter. Why? It’s because we are actually not in a safe and private place we are actually in a very crowded room surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of people on all sides, anyone of whom may, or may not, be listening in on your conversation.

Even those who are not on your circle lists (ie: Friends lists in Facebook, followers on Twitter, etc.) can still listen in to your conversations via wall posts and general tweets, responses to other tweets, etc. Think of it this way; if you are in a restaurant with your spouse having a conversation over dinner it is reasonable to assume that if you are not a little more careful those at tables around you, even though not specifically involved in your conversation, can still hear what you are saying correct? Same thing with social media, except it is not so much your volume as it is the ‘where’ and ‘what’ you are posting that matters more.

The Illusion of Security

The internet is definitely not secure, no more secure than walking down a street in the middle of the day in a very large city. In such a scenario you are routinely filmed without your knowledge by CCTV, cell phone cameras, regular everyday digital cameras and even the occasional TV camera. The internet is the same way only instead of video, your every keystroke is recorded, every photo you upload is archived. Did you know you cannot ‘delete’ a photo from Facebook? Oh sure, you can remove it from your profile and the button is labelled ‘delete’, but Facebook keeps a copy, they always have, it is in your Facebook end-user agreement. Have you read it? Have you read any of the end-user agreements on these social media websites? You should. Did you know you cannot delete your Facebook account? You can deactivate it but it will always be there and hackers love inactive accounts. The password never changes.

On many occasions law enforcement has been able to track people and their activities based purely on internet activities alone. Most of the time this is for a good reason, to be sure, but have you ever asked yourself how they got access to this or that private chat message when they are obviously not a part of the social media circle in question?

Don’t forget that every website on the internet has a ‘sysadmin’ and he can see and watch everything on their network. So, be sure of it, everything you put up on the internet STAYS on the internet for at least a VERY long time and it can be viewed by a wide variety of people for many different reasons. Every time you visit a website your IP address is recorded in a log file somewhere and associated with that website.

The Illusion of Privacy

I once read a story of a woman who suffered from chronic depression. She was given time off from work to deal with the issue and was paid by the medical insurance company while she was off from work. On the advice of a doctor, recommended to her by the medical insurance company, she took a vacation to Mexico to help relieve the stress and depression. She posted pictures of her vacation on Facebook when she got back and the insurance company seen them, they said she was lying and could not possibly be depressed and going on vacation at the same time and cut off her benefits. This woman probably thought she was only posting to her own circle and chances are good the insurance company is not a part of that circle yet they still got the photos. How did that happen? No privacy on the internet.

There are other stories out there as well, teachers who have been disciplined for what they have said on Facebook in private chats or in rooms. Police officers,various other public officials, etc. I won’t bore you with them, just remember there is no privacy on the net and there are countless examples that do not relate specifically to government spying or evil agendas. Don’t do, post or say anything on the internet you would not do in public.

The Illusion of Safety

The internet is definitely not safe. Especially for your kids. The best piece of advice I can give in this area is to learn how to use the built in firewalls on your routers to block out specific websites from your child or even for your own benefit. Do not just rely on the built-in Parental Controls that comes with software firewalls to work. Most of these do not screen out social media the way it should. In my opinion no one under the age of 18 should even be on social media. It serves no purpose to kids other than to distract them, keep them inside and get them into trouble.

Consider the recent bullying cases involving Facebook. In the old days, before social media, a bullied child would at least normally be safe at home from the bullies but now they get no respite at all, bullying in schools pours over to bullying at home in the form of Facebook threats, insulting tweets and constant insulting and threatening text messages. Don’t even get your kid a cell phone, I grew up without one, they are not required. They are distractions at best and tools of aggression and hostility at worst. Constant and unrelenting bullying has lead to suicide among our young people.

And get into reviewing your kids interactions with social media. Save and review internet history listings in your browsers. Learn how to review the log files that are generated by your routers and operating systems. Everything you need to know is probably there and don’t be afraid to block websites.

Keep yourself safe too. Watch who you interact with. Too many bad stories out there begin with the words ‘They met on the internet’.

The Workplace

If you have multiple machines at your disposal, one at work and one at home then do things like banking and social media interactions from your own home computer. Doing this from work, unless specified in your job description – this should be allowed very cautiously I think, only introduces a whole new level of monitoring into the equation. All corporations monitor their own networks, I know I have been doing the monitoring for years now. Also remember that corporate email accounts and corporate computers are not your own property, they belong to the corporation as do all information on those computers and in those accounts. They can seize it or review it at any given time without giving warning to the employee first. Most of the time you will not even be aware that you are being reviewed. Social Networking does not belong in the workplace.

So let’s review then;

  1. Never do, post or say anything on the internet that you would not want repeated over and over again and which you would not do in public.
  2. Everything that goes on the internet stays on the internet probably for ever as far as your concerned.
  3. Social Media should be restricted to the over 18 crowd. This should not be some ‘law’ or anything, rather a conscious decision of us, as parents. You would protect your child from a pedophile who lived down the street right? Well, they live and hunt on the internet too.
  4. Don’t get your kids a cell phone and if you really have to then get them a BASIC cell phone, not a iPhone or a Blackberry, so that they cannot go on the internet outside of the house. All cell phones can be tracked by GPS.
  5. Keep yourself safe. Protect your actual location and arrange to meet anyone for the first time in a very public and well populated place.
  6. Never do your social networking from a workplace computer. Never do ANY personal computing from a workplace computer. That stuff isn’t your and is heavily monitored.

Social Media was not created for evil purposes but, like anything, it can be misused by a wide variety of low lifes and various other forms of riff-raff. Is the government monitoring you on the internet? In a general sense yes they are. But there are those out there watching you a lot more closely than that. Be aware!

by Staff

Internet Safety videos for Grades 3-6

February 12, 2017 in Internet Safety by Staff

A selection of Videos we use at Stance in the ICT lab for grades 3-6. The objective is to outline to students issues surrounding internet safety and ethical behavior whilst on-line.

by Staff

Internet Safety

January 30, 2012 in Internet Safety by Staff

What Are The Signs  That Your Child Might Be At Risk On-line?

Your child spends large amounts of time on-line, especially at night.

Most children that fall victim to computer-sex offenders spend large amounts of time on-line, particularly in chat rooms. They may go on-line after dinner and on the weekends. They may be latchkey kids whose parents have told them to stay at home after school. They go on-line to chat with friends, make new friends, pass time, and sometimes look for sexually explicit information. While much of the knowledge and experience gained may be valuable, parents should consider monitoring the amount of time spent on-line.

Children on-line are at the greatest risk during the evening hours. While offenders are on-line around the clock, most work during the day and spend their evenings on-line trying to locate and lure children or seeking pornography.

You find pornography on your child’s computer.

Pornography is often used in the sexual victimization of children. Sex offenders often supply their potential victims with pornography as a means of opening sexual discussions and for seduction. Child pornography may be used to show the child victim that sex between children and adults is “normal.” Parents should be conscious of the fact that a child may hide the pornographic files on diskettes from them. This may be especially true if the computer is used by other family members.

Your child receives phone calls from men you don’t know or is making calls, sometimes long distance, to numbers you don’t recognize.

While talking to a child victim on-line is a thrill for a computer-sex offender, it can be very cumbersome. Most want to talk to the children on the telephone. They often engage in “phone sex” with the children and often seek to set up an actual meeting for real sex.

While a child may be hesitant to give out his/her home phone number, the computer-sex offenders will give out theirs. With Caller ID, they can readily find out the child’s phone number. Some computer-sex offenders have even obtained toll-free 800 numbers, so that their potential victims can call them without their parents finding out. Others will tell the child to call collect. Both of these methods result in the computer-sex offender being able to find out the child’s phone number.

Your child receives mail, gifts, or packages from someone you don’t know.

As part of the seduction process, it is common for offenders to send letters, photographs, and all manner of gifts to their potential victims. Computer-sex offenders have even sent plane tickets in order for the child to travel across the country to meet them.

Your child turns the computer monitor off or quickly changes the screen on the monitor when you come into the room.

A child looking at pornographic images or having sexually explicit conversations does not want you to see it on the screen.

Your child becomes withdrawn from the family.

Computer-sex offenders will work very hard at driving a wedge between a child and their family or at exploiting their relationship. They will accentuate any minor problems at home that the child might have. Children may also become withdrawn after sexual victimization.

Your child is using an on-line account belonging to someone else.

Even if you don’t subscribe to an on-line service or Internet service, your child may meet an offender while on-line at a friend’s house or the library. Most computers come preloaded with on-line and/or Internet software. Computer-sex offenders will sometimes provide potential victims with a computer account for communications with them.

What Should You Do If You Suspect Your Child Is Communicating With A Sexual Predator Online?

Consider talking openly with your child about your suspicions. Tell them about the dangers of computer-sex offenders.
Review what is on your child’s computer. If you don’t know how, ask a friend, coworker, relative, or other knowledgeable person. Pornography or any kind of sexual communication can be a warning sign.
Devices can be purchased that show telephone numbers that have been dialed from your home phone. Additionally, the last number called from your home phone can be retrieved provided that the telephone is equipped with a redial feature.

Monitor your child’s access to all types of live electronic communications (i.e., chat rooms, instant messages, Internet Relay Chat, etc.), and monitor your child’s e-mail. Computer-sex offenders almost always meet potential victims via chat rooms. After meeting a child on-line, they will continue to communicate electronically often via e-mail.

Should any of the following situations arise in your household, via the Internet or on-line service, you should immediately contact your local or state law enforcement agency.

Your child or anyone in the household has received child pornography;
Your child has been sexually solicited by someone who knows that your child is under 18 years of age;
Your child has received sexually explicit images from someone that knows your child is under the age of 18.
If one of these scenarios occurs, keep the computer turned off in order to preserve any evidence for future law enforcement use. Unless directed to do so by the law enforcement agency, you should not attempt to copy any of the images and/or text found on the computer.

What Can You Do To Minimize The Chances Of An On-line Exploiter Victimizing Your Child?

Communicate, and talk to your child about sexual victimization and potential on-line danger.
Spend time with your children on-line. Have them teach you about their favorite on-line destinations.
Keep the computer in a common room in the house, not in your child’s bedroom. It is much more difficult for a computer-sex offender to communicate with a child when the computer screen is visible to a parent or another member of the household.

Utilize parental controls provided by your service provider and/or blocking software. While electronic chat can be a great place for children to make new friends and discuss various topics of interest, it is also prowled by computer-sex offenders. Use of chat rooms, in particular, should be heavily monitored. While parents should utilize these mechanisms, they should not totally rely on them.

Always maintain access to your child’s on-line account and randomly check his/her e-mail. Be aware that your child could be contacted through the postal service. Be up front with your child about your access and reasons why.
Teach your child responsible use of the resources on-line. There is much more to the on-line experience than chat rooms.

Understand, no matter how it happens your child is not at fault and is the victim. The offender always bears the complete responsibility for his or her actions.
Instruct your children:

to never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they met on- line;
to never upload (post) pictures of themselves onto the Internet or on-line service to people they do not personally know;
to never give out identifying information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number;
to never download pictures from an unknown source;
to never respond to messages or bulletin board postings that are suggestive, obscene, belligerent, or harassing;
that whatever they are told on-line may or may not be true.

There are dangers in every part of our society. By educating your children to these dangers and taking appropriate steps to protect them, they can benefit from the wealth of information now available on-line.