You are here: Home / Child Safety

Child Safety

We all use the Internet. Sometimes we’re with others, like at school, and other times we’re on our own. Often we email family or good friends, or talk to other members of Guides. We surf the net for information to help with school projects or about our hobbies. We might buy things from companies (like book air tickets for a family holiday) or maybe even chat to people we’ve never actually met. As Internet technology evolves, the ways we can be in touch with others will be even greater. So it’s really important to understand the safety issues of being online and how to be sure we act in a way that will keep ourselves, and our computers, safe.

Savvy Surfin'

5 super safety tips are below. You need to remember these when using the Internet. They’re pretty simple and keeping them in mind when you’re connected will help make sure you have a safe and FUN Internet experience!

Stay safe

The reason why you shouldn't give out your personal information to those you don't know is that you can't be sure where it will end up, what it will be used for and who may contact you.

There are times when you have to give your personal information online - for example in registering for new products or to friends who you can trust. The important thing is to remember that this information can then be passed on to other people or organisations.

Often companies will ask you to register with them online because they are interested in selling you something. Don't be fooled by some of the online quizzes or raffles! It's best not to give out too much personal information on forms or quizzes - especially those which ask for personal details of those of other members in your home. Always ask for an adult's opinion if you are unsure.

Be careful when filling out "profiles" in clubs of communities. These are public areas of the Internet which people can search on and then contact you.

When entering a chat room you are often asked to give out your age, sex and location (ASL) Stick to your nickname and don't be too specific about your location.

Meeting strangers

Sadly some young people have met up with people they thought they knew on the internet and have ended up being hurt - see for example www.chatdanger.com. So remember the old "stranger = danger" rule, even if you've been chatting to someone for a long time who doesn't feel like a stranger.

There are lots of stories about how people have made real friends through the internet and this has obviously involved meeting up face to face after chatting on line. However, it is important to remember that people may not be who they say they are and both young people and adults can be fooled into meeting someone who they might not wish to meet. Take a trusted adult with you for support.

There are a number of excellent safe website resources which allow you to connect to others in a protected environment which is moderated. See for example www.gridclub.com.

Accepting emails

You can download viruses which damage your computer and some email attachments can include unpleasant pictures or links to websites.

If you do give out a lot of personal information about yourself when you sign up for a new product or when you enter a competition you may find that you are then bombarded with SPAM or Junk mail. If you have a web mail account you are more likely to get junk mail. Being safe online means making sure that you are careful about knowing how to filter junk email and block individual senders in your email software programme.

Be very careful not to open attachments from people or organisations which you don't know and make sure you have an anti-virus software protection system on your computer which is updated. This is not only to protect you from receiving viruses but also to stop your machine from passing viruses onto others by mistake.

Pretending to be someone else

It's important to remember that you are in charge when you’re online and can choose the people you want to talk to.

Whenever you sign on in a chat room you have to give yourself an alias or nickname. Pretending to be someone else is part of the fun and just like you can play the part of someone else on the stage in a play, or take on a role in a game, so it is possible to take on another role online.

However, be careful as it is difficult to know when someone is pretending and having fun or lying and wanting to be cruel. So it is always best to stay on the side of caution and if you feel uncomfortable with the way a conversation is going you have several options:

  • Stop and leave the Chat room
  • Block the person who is making you uncomfortable so they can no longer contact you
  • If it is really serious, then you can report them to the Chat host
    If someone is pestering you to meet up or hassling you it may be that they aren't the nice person they say they are and may be lying about their age, interests, and even their sex.

Just like individuals can lie on line, so organisations and companies can also mislead you. Just because someone has put something up on a website doesn't mean it is true. Also many advertising banners pop-ups and links can be misleading. Being safe online means you need to ask questions and check whether information on websites is true.

Tell your parent

It can feel really upsetting to get something by email which you didn't want and lots of times it can be through no fault of your own. Similarly it can be really creepy if you trusted someone you were chatting with, and then weren't sure. Everyone makes mistakes and so it is always best to talk to a friend, Guide leader or parent if someone, or something you see or receive on line makes you feel uncomfortable.

In NZ, you can also report anything you think is illegal to www.netsafe.org.nz Internet Safety Group which works with the police to get illegal material removed from the Internet. There are other Hotlines in other countries see www.inhope.org for a full list.

The Girl Guides Association New Zealand Incorporated - CC22069 is a registered charitable entity in terms of the Charities Act 2005.