Supervise Students to Prevent Cyberproblems
Supervising kids today is a whole new ballgame as students rely more heavily than ever on Internet social networking sites. In comfortable surroundings at home or school, students may be lulled into conversing with online strangers they wouldn’t otherwise confide in, opening the door to predators. School administrators can help prevent cyber stalking by educating students to use safer social networking habits.
Predators tend to look for kids who aren’t yet very Internet savvy. Students who learn safer practices will be in a better position to avoid predators.
Wile most teens try to exercise caution online, many have habits that can leave them vulnerable to predators, a survey suggested. The poll, Teens, Privacy & Online Social Networks, was released in 2007 by the Pew Life & American Life Project in Washington, D.C. Researchers from Princeton Survey Research Associates International interviewed 935 students ages 12 to 17, and a parent or guardian in 2006.
The survey showed:
- 55 % of students had Internet social networking site profiles.
- 66 % limited access to their online profiles in some way.
- 63 % said online strangers could identify them.
- 23 % posted information others could use to identify them.
- 40 %said a motivated stranger could find them based on the information they posted.
- 43 % were contacted online by a complete stranger.
- 21 % responded after being contacted by a stranger.
- 32 % listed “friends” on a social network site they’d never personally met.
- 49 % used social networking sites to make new friends.
To help students develop safer Internet social networking habits, Parry Aftab recommended that school staff share with students the following tips:
- Set Internet service provider controls for instant messaging. You can log on without others seeing you to see who’s online and check contacts you don’t recognize.
- Choose a non-identifiable, non gender-specific screen name. Keep it clean and private. Posting IM screen names attracts unsolicited contacts. Your screen name can be used to identify your e-mail address, which makes you a target for unsolicited e-mail.
- Think before you give out personal information to people you don’t know in real life. This includes your last name, phone number, mailing address, passwords or family details. Use password protections to keep strangers away from your personal info.
- Decline and block unrecognizable contacts, files or downloads. You never know who someone is online. Someone who says he’s a cute 14-year-old boy may not be cute, 14 or even a boy. If you add a friend or ask them to add you, ask in person first.
- Keep online communications behind password-protected walls. Get the OK from friends before posting their pictures or information. Check what your friends post about you so they don’t put you at risk. Get them to ask first, too.
- Use photo tools to blur or morph your picture a bit. That way, your photo can’t be easily abused.
- Don’t send or incite mean messages. Others can preserve what you post online forever so thinkb4uClick.
- Don’t post content a parent, principal, police or predator shouldn’t see. Remember, some officials routinely check social networking accounts, so don’t include content you couldn’t attach to your college, job, internship, scholarship or sports team application. It may come back to haunt you.