Social Networking Sites

Public Warnings

The following information has been provided to assist users and parents address some of the many issues and risks associated with using the internet. Due to the nature of the speed at which the internet can change, this advice cannot be exhaustive. As these issues change frequently, the best defence is education - remaining aware of the vulnerabilities the internet presents.

Settings

Check the settings on your social networking page, change it so only those you know and trust can see anything about you. Check it regularly as the settings may be changed by the Host site. Be aware that even though your settings may be secure, your friends settings may not be the same which can leave you vulnerable.

Profile

Review the profile you have placed on line, how much does it reveal about you. Are you happy for everyone to know all this about you?

Details

Don't put your photo, contact details or your current school on your profile. If you need to, give these details out to people you know and trust. What you place on the internet is no longer private and is no longer under your control. Others may use it for any purpose they wish.

Sending Images over the Phone

It is a criminal offence to take, transmit or possess images that are considered child pornography (of a person under 18 years) and may attract a penalty of up to 10 years gaol.

The consequences of taking private photographs of yourself and sending them could cause you and your family a great deal of embarrassment for a very long time. Once you have sent them you have no control of where they go or what they are used for. More importantly you can't get them back even if you want to.

If you receive something inappropriate, don't delete it, and tell your parents or an adult that you trust as soon as possible. If you continue to receive this type of material, tell the sender to stop. If need be, change your phone number.

Parents - Learn From Your Children

Ask you child to show you what they look at online, discuss the risks involved. Look at their profile, and the list of friends. Are you comfortable with what is on display?

Mobile Phones

Access to social networking sites can also be done via mobile phones, it is important the skills are applied to all access, parents can't be looking over their children's shoulders all the time.

'Send' is Definite

Once you have hit the send button, all of your information is available for many to see. Depending on the material, this may be humiliating, causing embarrassment for you and your family.

The Internet is here to stay, we have to accept it and learn about its vulnerabilities.

Cyber Bullying

It is common for cyber bullying to take place on social networking sites. Often cyber bullying escalates from conflict that begins in a school environment. The content of cyber bullying messages are taunting and insulting and often result with similar messages being sent back. While these matters cause a significant amount of stress and anxiety for the victims and parents, the actions rarely amount to a criminal offence. If you are being bullied on-line or by mobile phone:

  1. Tell your parents
  2. Tell your school
  3. Tell your site
  4. Tell the police if it escalates to threats of violence.

The following sites offer further information and advice on these issues:

www.cybersmart.gov.au
www.thinkuknow.org.au

Or search for "NSW education cyber bullying".