Strathclyde Police Warning on Social Networking and Other Internet Scams
Sites like Bebo, MySpace and Facebook are part of an internet phenomenon known as ‘social networking’ or other related bookmarking associates. They can be great fun to use and are an important part of many young people’s social lives. But, like any internet tool, they can be used for harmful or criminal purposes.
Social networking sites create a feeling of community. This can be positive or negative depending on the nature of the community created.
Because users access these sites from their own homes, they can sometimes forget that the internet is really a public space. This means they can be tempted to share more information than is sensible or safe.
You can help your children protect themselves by learning how these sites work and talking them through some basic advice as follows:
Stick with friends
Advise your child to make their profile private by changing the ‘privacy settings’ or ‘account settings’. This means only their friends will be able to see what’s on their profile. They’ll still be able to get friend requests, but are less likely to be pestered by strangers.
It’s also a good idea not to post personal details like last name, school or email address. After all, they might not know who their friends’ friends are. Remind them that there is always a chance someone else will see their information and not everyone online is honest.
Sharing is good, but…
Ask your kids to think carefully about:
- who they want to chat to
- what they want to say
- which pictures they put up on their site
Remember, even if it feels private, the internet is really a public space. And once they put something online, it will be there in some form forever, even if they delete it .
So if it isn’t something they’d be happy for their mum/dad/best friend or a total stranger to see, it’s probably best not to share it.
Think before they post
What your child puts online reflects the kind of person they are. So it’s important they don’t post racist, homophobic, bullying or threatening material. Encourage them to respect their friends and the social networking community and not bring real life arguments online.
Remember, too, that something they think is funny might not seem funny to others. What seems like a harmless joke in private may embarrass or humiliate someone in public.
Finally, if it’s illegal offline, it’s illegal online . Posting anything that promotes crime or violence or drug abuse could get them into serious trouble. Anything put online can be traced – even if they put in false details.
If you or your child notice anyone promoting illegal activity or behaving in a threatening manner it’s important that you report it to the service provider. If someone is in immediate serious danger, contact the police.
On Facebook, you can now also download a 'ClickCEOP' button which enables users to get help and advice from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre and report concerns directly to CEOP if necessary.