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Learner Internet, Communication and Media Safety Guidelines

The Internet is everywhere today — at work, in your home, in coffeehouses,  in airports. The benefits of wireless technology are boundless. With a desktop or laptop computer, or even with an Internet-enabled mobile phone, you can quickly and easily go online to:

·         Reference educational resources

Find a definition or a spelling, conduct research or take a Web-based college course without ever leaving home. You can even check your children’s grades or find out if they turned in their homework.

·         Communicate with family and friends

E-mail loved ones around theworld, send video greetings and photos, create a personal Web site, chat via instant messaging (IM) or talk live and “face-to-face” via a Web camera.

·         Search for information or entertainment

Find out where to catch the latest film, buy tickets to a live performance, make reservations at your favourite restaurant, search for and purchase a new suit or pair of shoes, or participate in an online auction.

·         Banking and e-commerce

Check account balances and investments, pay bills, transfer funds, buy and sell stocks and deposit checks electronically.

There is no doubt that the Internet makes our lives easier. But as beneficial as the Internet might be, it is also a place for fraud, identity theft, invasion of privacy and other cybercrimes.
Use the Internet, but use it wisely. This publication gives you tools and tips that will help you reap the benefits of electronic technology, while giving you the information you need to protect yourself and your family.

Common internet terms
The Internet has a language all its own. Here are some words to browse by.
Blog or Web log
A chronological, online diary of thoughts, ideas or events taking place in the owner — or blogger’s — life.
Hyperlink
An online section of text or an image that, when clicked,  automatically connects an Internet user to related information or Web pages.
Search Engine
A program that searches for information based on keywords. The search produces a list of related Web sites.
Password
A secret word used to confirm your identity when you log on to a Web site.
Internet service Provider (isP)
A company that provides Internet access to consumers.
Virus
A malicious program that can make your computer  “crash,” behave erratically or destroy files. Viruses are often spread by e-mail or file-sharing programs.
Hacker
An individual who remotely accesses and tampers with information on other individuals’ computers, either legally or illegally.
Chat rooms
Online gathering places where individuals with common interests “meet” for discussions that appear almost immediately on the monitors of other chat participants.
Bulletin Boards
Electronic messages that are posted for others to see.
filters
Programs that screen Web pages to determine whether they should be displayed to users. For example, parents can install filters that prohibit their children from accessing pornographic or other objectionable content.
Profile
A short, succinct Internet “resume” that lets other Web users know a little about you and your interests.

Creating Passwords
Passwords are used to access personal information stored on a Web site or on your computer.
Although your password should be easy for you to remember, you will need to change it often. Why? Because passwords obtained by fraudsters or thieves can be used to gain access to your financial accounts or private information, or to impersonate you when applying for credit, opening bank accounts or purchasing products.
Protecting your Passwords
·         Create passwords with a combination of at least eight letters and numbers, and use both upper- and lower-case letters. Longer passwords are harder to decipher. Think of a phrase or sentence meaningful to you and easy to remember.
·         Then, take the first character from each word, alternate upper and lower case and use some common letter-number substitutions.
·         Avoid the use of personal information as part of your password.
·         Do not use your name, your pet or child’s name, your Social Security number, or your current or former address.
·         Stay away from number or letter patterns and sequences (for example,“121212” or “abcdefg”).
·         Change your password every 60 to 90 days.
·         Vary your password — do not use the same one for every account or retail site.
·         Use a password that differs from your screen name.
·         Do not store your password online. 
Safeguarding your Privacy
You can never be sure who you are chatting with online. The friendly fellow movie fan or book lover in an online forum may actually be a clever criminal looking for his next cybercrime victim.
How can you have fun online while protecting yourself?
Do not post information that will identify you, including:
·         Your full name.
·         Your home address or phone number.
·         Your Social Security number.
·         Passwords.
·         Credit card or bank account numbers.
·         Names of family members or friends.
·         Your workplace or favorite hangout.
·         Names of clubs or organizations to which you belong.
·         Historical information that could identify your past residences.
·         Do not use a nickname that can be used to identify you
·         Never share your account password.
Protect your Computer system
Consider using encryption to protect your personal information.
Shut down your computer when it is not in use — especially in public places, such as Internet cafes, coffeehouses or airports.
Keep your antivirus and antispyware programs, other software and operating systems updated to protect against new attacks.
Consider using a firewall on your system to protect against hackers accessing your system remotely.

Staying safe using Blogs, Chat rooms, e-mail, instant  messaging
Fast friendships are forged over the Internet — and there is no doubt that casual, online conversations sometimes are the foundation of good, lasting relationships. However, the anonymity of the Internet may compel some individuals to reveal too much about their private lives or to make hurtful comments or accusations they would never make in person. If an online conversation makes you uncomfortable in any way, sign off immediately.
It is important to remember that the rules of behavior that apply in “real life”apply to your “cyber life,” too.
Think about how your e-mail message will be read by others. Do not say anything online that is cruel or may damage someone’s reputation. Doing so puts you at risk of being accused of slander or defamation, or may cause a dangerous escalation of hostilities.
·         Do not give out personal information about someone else.
·         Do not forward another individual’s e-mail without their permission.
·         Never allow anyone to photograph you in an embarrassing or compromising situation.
·         Never post anything that would cause you embarrassment or shame.
The Internet is the most public of forums — once you have posted a comment, a photo or a video, it cannot be erased or taken back. You cannot control its duplication and it may be used against you.
Do not send photos of yourself or family members to Internet acquaintances. Photos can be altered and sent to others, and elements in photos— a landmark or a street name, for example — can be used to identify your location.
Remember that, once posted, the information can be seen by anyonewith a computer and an Internet connection: family and friends, employers or potential employers, admissions officers at schools you might like to attend — even police and other law-enforcement authorities.

Be smart, Be safe: meeting someone you met online
People misrepresent themselves online. Often the lies are small and harmless. But sometimes they are not. It is very easy for an individual with criminal intentions to mislead potential victims over the Internet.
Perhaps you have connected with someone you met online and want to meet inperson. Here are some basic safety tips:
·         Speak by phone before agreeing to a meeting. Often, hearing an individual’s voice and engaging in verbal conversation is very revealing.
·         Learn as much as you can about the individual and verify that information.
·         Do not go alone. Take along a trusted friend.
·         Arrange to meet in a public place — a restaurant, a coffee shop or even a museum. If your online friend is a trustworthy individual, he will understand and welcome your caution. If your plan for a public meeting is met with objections, immediately terminate further conversation.
·         Never give out your address. Make arrangements to arrive separately.
·         Park a few blocks away and walk to where you are meeting, or take a taxi. That way the individual will not know where you parked, your license plate number or the make and model of your vehicle.
·         Make sure family members and friends (someone other than the friend you take with you) knows where you are going, who you are meeting and how long you will be gone. Check in with someone when you arrive, and arrange to call when you are safely home.
·         Watch your alcohol intake. Do not leave a drink unattended if you step away from the table.
·         Never leave with the individual. If you suspect you are being followed, drive to the nearest police station or public location for help.

Protecting your Children While they are online
As a parent, it is your responsibility to know what your children are doing online and guard them against the dangers that prey on unsuspecting minors. How can you do that?
Set parameters.
How many hours a day can they spend online? What sites can they visit? Are chat rooms OK or off-limits? What about interactive games? Set rules and enforce them.
Keep the family computer (or your child’s computer) in a busy area.
Children, especially young children, should access the Internet where you can monitor them and monitor the sites they visit. Consider installing a software program that allows you to control their Web browsing. If your children have e-mail accounts, make sure you know their passwords and randomly check messages.
Educate yourself and your children.
Follow news reports and conduct research to find real-life examples of Internet predators. Remind your
children that individuals they “meet” online are not always who or what they seem.
Encourage your children to talk to you.
Ask them to alert you if they encounter someone or something online that makes them uncomfortable.
Remind them that you will not be angry; you love them and want to protect them from real danger.
Look for signs that your child might have been targeted by an online predator.
If your child is secretive, unusually quiet or spending too much time online, ask questions and be supportive.

Signs that your child might have been targeted by an online predator
·         Uncharacteristic silence or withdrawal from the family.
·         Turning off the monitor or reducing a Web page when you enter the room. If this is happening,
·         log on to your child’s computer and look for evidence of inappropriate sites. Ask for expert help, if necessary. “Google” your child’s name to see if his personal information is on the Internet.
·         Spending a lot of time online — especially at night, when most computer predators are online, too.
·         Making or receiving telephone calls to or from unrecognized numbers.
If your child has been targeted by a predator:
Immediately contact the appropriate authorities.
if your child has:
·         Received pornography.
·         Been solicited.
·         Received explicit images from someone who knows he is a minor.
Remember: talk to your Child if you suspect he/she is at risk, and monitor access to electronic Communications.
It will be worth your time, because communication is the key to keeping children safe.

Internet bullying, known as cyberbullying, occurs in all communities and at all income levels. Sometimes, the bully is someone your child knows from school. But the bully may be an individual your child has never met —perhaps someone she angered in a chat room or on a gaming Web site.
Cyberbullying can be more harmful and frightening than schoolyard bullying, because it is very public. Thebully spreads hurtful comments or innuendo to many individuals via the Internet, and others may join in.
If you suspect your child is the victim of a cyberbully:
·         Use the block feature to block the sender’s
·         e-mail or instant messaging (IM) account.
·         Go online yourself to warn the bully that if the behavior does not stop, you will inform his parents, the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and the appropriate law-enforcement authorities.
·         Save every communication from the bully.
·         Report the situation to the ISP.
·         Urge your child to stay offline, if necessary.
·         Seek legal guidance, if warranted.
·         If your child continues to receive harassing e-mails, delete your child’s current account and open a new one.
·         Only give the new e-mail address to individuals you and your child trust.
internet Bullying, known as Cyber Bullying, occurs in all Communities and at all income levels.

Mobile  Phones
Telephones with Internet capabilities are great for keeping in touch and especially for summoning help in the event of an emergency. Some of today’s mobile phones have built-in Global Positioning Systems (GPS), that can pinpoint your location if you are too sick or injured to place a call.
However, the phones that are so handy for communication can become tools for stalkers and other predators. Use the same safety guidelines with your mobile phone that you do with your computer.
Do not share your telephone number with strangers.
·         Never give out another individual’s phone number without their permission.
·         Do not respond to suspicious Short Messaging Service (SMS) text messages received on your mobile phone.
Never allow anyone to use their camera to photograph you in an embarrassing or compromising situation.
Never take photos of anyone without their permission. 
You can register with The Telephone Preference Service
Registry to stop receiving unwanted telemarketing calls.

For more information on internet safety