CIRA and MediaSmarts have partnered on a series of five tip sheets to educate Canadians about online security issues. The 5th tip sheet in the series, Socializing and Interacting Online, looks at negative issues that can come up when interacting with others through networked technologies including phishing scams and hoaxes, and strategies for dealing with them.
Summer can feel very long sometimes. Heck, I’ve been there. I clearly remember the days when the kids seemed crazier than a pack of wild squirrels, leaving piles of household detritus in their wake while I followed them helplessly, longing for a hot cup of coffee and five minutes in the bathroom without someone knocking on the door.
We generally think of our kids’ online and offline lives as being two separate things. In reality, they constantly overlap, flowing back and forth face-to-face in the schoolyard and through texts and social networks at home. But on the Internet there are lots of moral and ethical choices that don’t have to be made offline.
For parents of teens and tweens, the Internet can sometimes seem like nothing more than an ever-expanding list of websites to keep up on: Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Snapchat and so on, with new ones appearing every few months. While the safety risks associated with these mainstream sites are often exaggerated – and it’s more effective to build broader critical thinking skills than to focus on the particulars of kids’ latest favourite sites – there are some websites that present very real and specific risks and that parents are much less likely to know about. These are the so-called “rogue websites” that offer unapproved access to copyrighted content such as music, movies and video games.
Do young people care about privacy? Participants in MediaSmarts’ 2012 focus groups told us that they valued their privacy highly, despite being enthusiastic participants in platforms and activities that adults see as being about nothing but sharing and broadcasting. Looking at the findings from our Young Canadians in a Wired World survey of more than five thousand students from every province and territory in Canada, we can begin to understand that contradiction: young people may not care that much about what we think of as privacy, but they care very much about control – control over who can see what they post, over who can track them digitally and, most especially, over how other people see them.
Most Web surfing is done through browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome and Safari. While these browsers are updated regularly, our use of the Web has evolved to the point where we now do many things online, such as shopping and banking. For that reason, there are a number of potential risks that come with using the Web.
The Internet provides marketers with many opportunities to elicit personal information from children. Kids love playing on the Web, and commercial sites for children are continually ranked as top online destinations.
For most of us, the Internet has become an indispensable part of our social lives: we use it to keep up with old friends, keep in touch with our families and meet new people. Unfortunately, not all online interactions are as positive as these. This tip sheet will explain some of the issues we face when we socialize online and provide tips for dealing with them.
As well as invaluable tools for keeping in touch with our friends, families and our work, mobile devices have become an increasingly big part of how we access the Internet. Unfortunately, while many smartphones are nearly as powerful as computers, we often don’t use the same caution with them as we do with our computers—and they often don’t have the privacy and security safeguards that come built into computers. As well, the fact that we’re never far from our mobile devices can bring a host of opportunities for us to be distracted and to make poor choices.
Malware is a general term to describe destructive programs that can harm your computer or any other device that connects to the Internet, including smart phones, mp3 players and tablets.