www.whyville.net Sep 30, 2012 Weekly Issue

Guest Writer

Cyber Safety

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Author's Note: A few weeks ago a man came to talk about Internet safety at our school. What he had to say was really interesting and a lot of it is what I have written here. Original idea of writing about Internet safety for an article was from Gypsyboi in the BBS.

It's easy to sit behind a computer screen, alone in the comfort of your own bedroom and expect nothing bad to happen to you. The Internet is your cherry - the possibilities are endless. You can talk freely to people from all over the world, and say whatever you want to them.

The best thing about it is there's always that red X in the top right hand corner of your screen readily available for you if you feel that you want to leave. But can you really hide? Are you really as safe behind that screen as you think?

How safe you are is your choice. The Internet shouldn't be looked on as an escape from reality, or as if it's another world. The Internet is in this world. The Internet is part of reality and whatever you do online can have real consequences for you in the real world.

If a stranger came up to you at the shops and asked you for your email, where you live and for your Facebook would you tell them? Wouldn't you be suspicious and wonder why they want to know that information? Everyone you speak to online is a stranger. They are a stranger to you because you don't know them, they don't know you, and you have never met them.

Never give out any personal information or details like your email, phone number, address or full name. People can use this information to their advantage; they can form a profile of you. With that profile they can do many more things.

There have been criminals who looked at Facebook profiles of children under the age of sixteen. They aimed for the ones with the least privacy settings and most information put up about them. All they needed to know was the child's date of birth, full name and have a picture of that child and later on, when the child was old enough to own a credit card they set up a card under their name.

As for online dating, what's the point? Anyone could be anyone online. A sixty year old man could pretend to be a young girl. Someone on Whyville could secretly be Lady GaGa, Nicki Minaj or Justin Bieber. I could be one of those super intelligent monkeys that have been taught to speak English and given a computer with very big keys. You never really know for sure who the person you're flirting with actually is.

Sure, most people online would be who they say they are. But just like in the real world, there are real criminals lurking around online. One day, if you're not careful you could be in for a shock. And if you are one of those criminals you could be in for a shock too.

You're easier to find hiding behind your screen than you think. If you know how, it's simply to track someone down, especially if their online trail reeks of destruction. Everything you've said or done. Every website you've visited, every Facebook message you've sent, everything you've done online, someone, somewhere has a copy of it.

Cyber bullying is disgusting. People who do it are given just as little respect as bullies in real life. It's a cowardly thing to do. If you are being cyber bullied best thing you can do is tell someone and seek help wherever you can, you don't need to go through it alone. If you are a cyber-bully remember that the actions you take behind that computer screen are not as hidden from the outside world as you think they are. Stay away from the dark side of the Internet.

Employers often look up the Facebook pages of people who they're thinking of employing. It helps them get a better view of the person. If the person has said or done anything that is inappropriate or used the Internet in an inappropriate way it's unlikely they will get employed.

By all means continue using all the things on the Internet you use. The Internet is useful for so many things and is very fun. Just be careful. And if you've said or done anything that could be unsafe it's time to change. It's time to start using the Internet safely. It can even open good opportunities for you in the future.

Never give away your personal details or information. Never do anything illegal. Never cyber bully, treat people online like you would in the real world. If you wouldn't say it in the real world to someone don't say it online. The choices you make online can have consequences or benefits to you in the real world.

If you would like information on how to stay safe online go to: http://www.google.com.au/goodtoknow/#utm_source=aw&utm_medium=ha&utm_campaign=gtkau and


Thank you for reading, Zicker.


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