By Brian Huntley
Knowing what to do and what to avoid when playing online games on a console, PC or mobile device can potentially create a good or bad experience. Social media apps add a whole new layer of interactivity to the mix. Of course, you’re there to have fun, but there usually seems to be someone who is determined to cause a ruckus, or worse.
Here are some tips on internet safety for kids that will hopefully make your online gaming the best it can be.
Gaming & social sites
The internet has made the gaming experience much more social. Whether playing an app or game, individuals can easily collaborate and communicate with others online. But it is impossible to know exactly who is on the other end of that digital connection. Online communities are often made up of anonymous strangers, and discussions may not be moderated.
It is easy for anyone — young or old — to inadvertently give away personal information that can be damaging. Caution should always be used when communicating online, even in seemingly harmless ways. Usernames should be completely anonymous (avoid birthdays or ages), and never give passwords, addresses or other contact information to strangers. Easy rule of thumb: If you wouln’t tell a stranger in person these things, don’t tell a random person online.
Instances of cyberbullying have grown alongside the popularity of the internet. Cyberbullies tease and taunt through email, social media and other online modes of communication. The organization NoBullying says that 52 percent of young people in the United Kingdom report being cyberbullied, but many will not tell their parents when the abuse occurs. More than half of young people in North America also have experienced cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying can take many forms, including sending mean messages or threats, spreading rumors, posting hurtful messages on social media, stealing account information, sending damaging messages, and circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person.
Anyone, regardless of age, who spends time on social media can fall victim to cyberbullying. By blocking people, limiting the amount of personal information they share online, and letting your adult know what’s happening, you can reduce the likelihood or being victimized by cyberbullies.
Understanding digital permanence
Many people do not fully grasp that the internet creates a trail of information that never really goes away. Computer security experts warn that what goes on the internet tends to stay on the internet, even when one thinks he or she has deleted it. What’s more, a person can never verify if a person has made a copy of a post or a picture and saved it.
Images, opinions and more can come back to haunt people who post them online. Stop and think before putting information online. If users might one day be uncomfortable discussing something they shared online, then they should resist the temptation to share it in the first place.
Many families rely on the internet every day. Families should always give careful consideration to the information they share online, holding back any details that might be private or put their security at risk.
Buy/Download reputable apps
Keep in mind that there is money to be made from online access. Apps requiring in-app purchases, downloads and the like may not always be on the up and up. Exercise caution and do research on apps when money is involved online.
More than three billion people are online using the resources of the web in various ways.1 Such widespread access and connectivity can lead to many of positive effects. But being online also comes with some safety concerns. Speaking out to your adult or someone in authority, like a teacher, when there is a problem is one of the greatest tools you have to making your experience and others’ better.
Check out these online safety resources.