‘Watch your step’ online

As our Digital Citizenship series continues, IGS Primary Digital Innovator and educator David Smith discusses digital footprints, social networking and safety online.

“Children and parents should be aware of any information and images they place on social media platforms, and how that may affect their overall digital footprint for years to come,” David said.

David stressed the importance of parents discussing with their children “what apps they are using and related privacy settings”.

“It is vital that children are aware of how to engage safely using social media,” David said. “There are many social media sites and games that may allow for unsavoury online behaviour.”

David refers the IGS community to The Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

What do I need to know about safe social networking?

  • Limit your friend list.
  • Don’t “friend” random people.
  • Protect your privacy.
  • Never share your password.
  • Set your profile to private.
  • Review privacy settings regularly.
  • Your personal details are valuable. Don’t share them.
  • Protect your reputation. Keep it clean and ask yourself whether you really want everyone to see what you upload.
  • Be careful who you trust. A person can pretend to be someone they are not.
  • Don’t use a webcam with people you do not know.
  • Think before you post, chat, upload or download.

What are the risks of social networking?

People can say and do things online that they would not do offline, but there could still be serious consequences.
People might share too much information and later regret it. A party photo which seems fun at the time might not look so good later in life during job application processes.
Unfortunately, it is easy for people to lie online, and pretend to be friendly while targeting children for the wrong reasons. Be cautious about online “friends”.
Personal information should be carefully protected. There are risks involved with sharing account details and location information.

Diverse privacy settings

The Office of the eSafety Commissioner explains that all social networking sites have their own version of “default” privacy, conditions and security settings. It is important that parents and children know how each site works and how to change the settings to protect personal information.

Location-based services

Many social networking sites take advantage of location-based services, which enable users to report their physical location to others via their mobile phone. Individuals can “check-in” from a location to let others know their whereabouts. On some social networking services the location-based functions are turned on by default. To manage these services, and retain your privacy, review your social networking settings to block the function or to limit who sees your location-based information.

David recommends all parents visit Quick guide to Games, apps and social networking and explore other parts of this site to support their understanding of social media.