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Cyber Safety

Smartphone apps can be a nightmare for parents. Here's an updated list of the latest and most problematic of the popular apps.

Instagram

Age requirement 13+

Instagram is an online photo/video sharing site that has a social networking feature. It allows users to take pictures and videos, apply  filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services. It is now owned by Facebook. Although users can choose to share privately, most, including children do not. Kids seem to want lots of people 'following' them on the site so allow unfettered access without thought to the sorts of people that may want to grab a copy of the picture posted. If location services are set to 'on' on your device then the GPS position of where you were when you took the pic is easily obtained. Also used for cyberbullying. It is a fun way to share if over 13 and used correctly with full privacy settings enabled.
 

Qooh.me

Age restriction 13+

Qooh.me is a social site that allows people who find you interesting to ask you anonymous questions so they can know you better. In the same vein as Ask.fm and Formspring.me/Spring.me, anything that promises or suggests anonymity is highly problematic. Another to avoid. Nothing positive comes out of these types of sites.
 

KiK

Age restriction 17+

KiK is a messaging app that is highly appealing to kids because it is free and no phone number is required as users choose a user name. Communication is via any Wi-Fi network so calls/texts do not come out of phone credit. It is the number one app for causing problems in schools at the moment as younger kids are using it if often behind their parents backs and it is often linked to an Instagram account. Oink is a free add on to KiK which allows strangers to randomly message each other, and because of the large number of very young, vulnerable kids and teens using the app, it is also a haven for online predators. Police around the world regularly warn about KiK. 50 million users and growing. One to avoid. Not rated as suitable for 17+ for nothing!

Snapchat

Age restriction 13+

Snapchat is a photo messaging app which allows users to take photos, record videos, add text and drawings, and send them to a controlled list of recipients. These photographs and videos are known as "Snaps". Users set a time limit for how long recipients can view their Snaps and this can be from 1 to 10 seconds. After this time they will be hidden from the users screen, but are totally retrievable if required. Known as the 'safe sexting' app, Snapchat if used to send fun harmless photos is fine, but when kids and teens use it to send naked or semi naked pictures it causes serious problems for those involved.
 

Omegle

Age restriction 17+

Omegle is a free online chat website that allows users to communicate with strangers without registering. The service randomly pairs users in one-on-one chat sessions where they chat anonymously. Its  tag line is 'talk to strangers'. You can imagine the quality and calibre of the 'stranger' you will find! Used extensively for 'sex' chat/video you can guess the rest. If you find a person on the other side with clothes on, it's like winning tattslotto; It won't happen to you. Even primary kids know about Omegle so be warned and I reckon that anything that has the following disclaimer on its own website should be avoided at all costs. "Use Omegle at your own peril", enough said.

Ask.fm

Age requirement 13+

A Latvia Based social networking site where users can ask each other questions with the option of anonymity which almost all users on this site do. It was founded as a rival to Formspring. Because of the anonymity it encourages extremely nasty questions and is used extensively to bully and harass. Best to avoid as nothing positive happens here. There have been several suicides of teens overseas linked to the site.

Peninsula Grammar takes instances of bullying very seriously and has a number of policies in place to manage various types including cyber-bullying. The School is actively working to reduce the instances of cyber-bullying and to educate parents in issues surrounding cyber-safety as a means of supporting them and their children.

The School continues to liaise with other School communities and with individuals and organisations who can provide ongoing support and education in developing a culture of cyber safety within our community.

Cyber bullying can include such acts as posting or texting mean comments, making threats, sending insults or racial or ethnic slurs, and masquerading. Victims can delete or block the perpetrator, limit computer connection time, not respond to threatening or defamatory messages, never opening e-mail messages from sources they do not recognize and report the bullying to the School.

If the abuse occurs outside of School hours and off the School network the School will speak to the children involved in the abuse and make contact with the parents of those children involved. Evidence such as print outs or emails of the abuse or offensive comment or image is helpful to the discussion. When necessary, the School will protect your child by attributing the finding of the material to an anonymous child or parent. In our experience, this is often enough to stop the activity immediately. The School may also suggest strategies such as, ‘blocking’ or ‘deleting’ the offender, changing their password, resetting their privacy settings, changing their mobile phone number and so on.

If the abuse occurs at School and/or on the School network the School will disable the child’s account and an appropriate disciplinary consequence will be applied. Parents of the child will be informed and the child counselled on the expectations of the School’s Internet Use Policy.

If it were to continue the School may encourage you to make contact with the Police.

 Peninsula Grammar conducts regular awareness programs with students to ensure their welfare and safety in an ICT learning environment. Our Cyber Ethics and Safety Committee oversees a range of initiatives including awareness programs conducted at each level of the School, policies, procedures and responsibilities.

There are a range of resources for parents seeking more information on cyber safety. These include https://esafety.gov.au/esafety-information which is part of the Federal Government’s cybersafety program. Thinkuknow, http://www.thinkuknow.org.au/ developed by the Australian Federal Police and Microsoft Australia, ThinkUKnow is an internet safety program delivering interactive training to parents, carers and teachers through schools and organisations across Australia using a network of accredited trainers. There is a section full of easily understood information for children and advice on how to stay safe online.

Bully Stoppers is another great resource website about bullying for parents, students and teachers, and contains a number of resource sheets aimed at the primary and secondary school age student from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development: http://www.education.vic.gov.au/about/programs/bullystoppers/Pages/default.aspx


Cybersafety resources

Please take time to read these brief pages reproduced courtesy of Susan Maclean. An essential read is the Useful Cybersafety information websites factsheet.

Cyberbullying fact sheet 1
   Online grooming
Cyberbullying fact sheet 2    Sexting
Internet safety tips
   What is problematic internet use?


Cybersafety help button download

The Australian Government’s cybersafety help button provides internet users, particularly children and young people, with easy online access to cybersafety information and assistance available in Australia.

The help button is a free application that is easily downloaded onto personal computers. It provides help and advice on a range of online risks including cyberbullying, unwanted contact, scams and fraud, and offensive or inappropriate material.

All you need do is download it from this page and install it on your computer desktop. You can leave the button icon on your desktop or place it on the taskbar. Then just click it twice if you ever need help or advice about something unsafe or upsetting that you or have encountered on the internet.

https://www.esafety.gov.au/complaints-and-reporting/cybersafety-help-button

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our golden jubilee celebrations

All members of our community - past, present and future - were invited to join us as we celebrated fifty years of outstanding education on the Mornington Peninsula. We had a host of celebratory Golden Jubilee events in 2011. 



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