Keep personal information on a need-to-know basis
Not every message should be shouted from the rooftops. It’s important to think before you share, since public content can be copied, re-shared and spread around the web by anyone who finds it. Talk to your family about protecting their personal information online, then help them share what they want and protect what they don’t. Some services, like Google+, have stricter sharing settings for teen users than for adults, but many services can be customised to fit the needs of each family member. Talk with your family about what types of information they can share publicly, what might be better to share with just a few close friends and what should stay private.
Advice from our partners
Sometimes users take nude images / videos of themselves with cellphones for personal use. However, often this content ends up in the wrong hands. For example, your phone, laptop or computer might be stolen or hacked. These sorts of photos or videos can spread like wildfire through mobile or social networks. There have been many cases where children have been expelled from school or university, or people have lost their jobs, because of photos they or their friends posted online. And it can be as serious as getting a criminal record – if the subject of such images and videos is under the age of 18, possessing and distributing them constitutes child sexual abuse imagery and is a punishable offence.
The Film and Publication Act, defines child sexual abuse imagery as any image, however created, or any description of a person, real or simulated, who is, or who is depicted or described as being, under the age of 18 years:
- Engaged in sexual conduct;
- Participating in, or assisting another person to participate in, sexual conduct; or
- Showing or describing the body, or parts of the body, in a manner or in circumstances which, within context, amounts to sexual exploitation.
Obligations of Internet access and Service Providers (ISPs)
Child-oriented service providers, including chatrooms, on mobile cellular telephones or the Internet, have to ensure that their services are not used for the commission of crimes against children (such as child sexual abuse imagery), ensure display of safety messages, provide mechanism to enable children to report suspicious behavior on chat rooms to the South African Police Services (SAPS). A further requirement is that they provide information concerning software or other tools which can be used to filter or block access to content services and contact services, where allowing a child to access would constitute an offence under the Film and Publications Act. Any person who fails to comply with these provisions shall be guilty of an offence.
Parents, help your children to understand why they should never forward or post pictures that could cause them embarrassment, even if their friends are doing it. Anyone who comes across material that is classifiable as child sexual abuse imagery is encouraged to report it to the FPB using the Toll Free number 0800 148 148, or visiting the FPB’s website for more information: www.fpb.gov.za
The Internet is a powerful form of communication, not only because it allows people to communicate with friends and family virtually for free, but because it has the power to change people’s lives for the better. However, the medium has also been used to harm others, especially children. Children are trusting (as they should be), and are often unaware of anyone that might have ulterior motives.
This is especially true with their personal information – signing up to services such as social networks and shopping services often means that users have to enter their information such as real names, location, age, address and telephone numbers. While there is nothing wrong with doing this per se, children need to understand that this information can be used against them if it ends up in the wrong hands. There are always options to use ‘fake’ online identities or to hide phone numbers and email addresses to public viewers. Randomly giving out personal information online is not a safe thing to do – sometimes people ask for personal information so that they can misuse it – for example they may steal your identity – or find you and harm you in some way.
Sharing too much information is not only limited to contact details and can include passwords and other secret login codes. Some people in relationships share personal passwords as a way of demonstrating their love and trust. However, if the relationship ends, their partner might log into their accounts to send out harmful or inappropriate messages on their behalf.
Here are some tips for children on what information to keep safe:
- Make sure the privacy settings of your website and social networking sites are set-up in such a way that only people you have accepted as friends or contacts can see your information.
- Never reveal your mobile number, especially to strangers.
- Never use your real name – some online services and social networks allow users to register under a pseudonym or ‘handle’.
- Do not tell anyone where you live or where you go to school.
- Do not reveal the personal details of your friends.
- If you feel uncomfortable with a conversation in a chat room, leave the chatroom or block the person who is trying to chat to you.
- Keep all your passwords and personal identification numbers (PIN) to yourself and never allow anyone access to your phone or computer in your absence.
- If you share a phone or use a public computer, never ‘remember passwords’ or leave your social network profile on auto login.
- Keep your online relationships online, DO NOT meet offline.
If you are unsure, ask your parents, caregiver or chat to a Childline Counsellor on 08000 55555 (Toll Free) or see these helpful videos.
Discover Google safety tools designed to help your family monitor their online reputation.
Manage YouTube Comments
If someone is making comments that you don't like on your videos or Channel, you can block them on YouTube. This means that they won't be able to comment on your things or send you private messages.
Choose whose updates that you see in your stream
What if someone adds you to their circles, but you're not interested in interacting with them? If you don’t want to block them, you can mute them instead. If you mute a user, you will no longer receive notifications from them or their page.
Control the chatter about your videos
It’s easy to moderate the comments on your YouTube channel. You can choose to delete comments or to hold comments from certain people or with certain keywords from being published before you review them.