The internet is an exciting place. Most people probably use it every day for research, socialising or just to have fun. Considering how many billions of people are using the Internet at any one time, it could be said that overall it is actually a relatively safe place. However, as with anything so good, there are bound to be a few things that are not so good. The internet does have a few pitfalls to be aware of in order to use it confidently and safely.
This leaflet, from London Grid for Learning, gives some useful tips for parents on this subject. Parents, carers and students can also find out more from the following websites:
Top Tips from Childnet International
- Protect your online reputation: use the services provided to manage your digital footprints and ‘think before you post.’ Content posted online can last forever and could be shared publicly by anyone.
- Know where to find help: understand how to report to service providers and use blocking and deleting tools. If something happens that upsets you online, it’s never too late to tell someone.
- Don’t give in to pressure: if you lose your inhibitions you've lost control; once you’ve pressed send you can’t take it back.
- Respect the law: use reliable services and know how to legally access the music, film and TV you want.
- Acknowledge your sources: use trustworthy content and remember to give credit when using others’ work/ideas.
Free Computer Protection Software
Install anti-virus software
Without proper protection from viruses, you're leaving your computer at risk from all manner of threats. Thankfully, there are a number of free anti-virus programs out there to regularly scan your computer, and if you keep it updated, you should be safe from the newest viruses:
Install anti-spyware software
If you use the Internet regularly, it's worthwhile having some anti-spyware software installed. They work by scanning your system for known spyware and adware components, and letting you delete them if any are found. You can even schedule the software to scan while you're sleeping.
Try alternative web browsers
Internet Explorer (Windows) and Safari (Mac) aren't your only choices when it comes to searching on the web. In fact, many technical professionals are now suggesting you look at some of the new browsers available as they could help in preventing spyware from reaching your PC. Mozilla Firefox is gaining popularity at the moment, as is Opera. Both deserve a look.
Take care when installing file sharing software
It's all too easy to rush through installation screens when you want to download the latest track from your favourite artist, but you need to make sure you're not sharing more files than you thought. When you're installing the software, read each screen before clicking Next to make sure you're not accidentally sharing half your hard drive to the outside world.