Checking out the newly-launched resource safesurf.bh.
With frequent media reports of kids being targeted by unsavoury types online, cyber bullying and privacy issues, the Internet has become a sometimes scary place – maybe not for young people themselves but certainly for the parents and guardians who try to keep them safe without blocking them off from the online world.
The State of the Nation Review of Internet Safety, carried out by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), found that: • Young people use the internet an average of 2.5 – 3.5 hours every day. They use the internet for a number of different reasons; mainly for homework purposes, to play games or to interact with other people. Young people connect via instant messaging, chat rooms, games, blogging and Social Networking Sites (SNS).
• Young people do not have a great understanding of what is meant by personal information.
• It appears that some children do not realise how public and accessible their information really is. A significant number of young people had their profile on SNS set to public, and did not know how to set it to private.
• Generally, older children in the 14-16 and 17-18 age groups took the most risks in terms of online safety; they were more likely to have shared personal information with a stranger and to have opened an email attachment from an unknown source than children in the 11-13 age group.
• A high number (43 percent of 1090) of young people had met with an online contact who they had not met in person before. This data indicates much higher proportions of children meeting with online contacts when compared to recent research undertaken in Europe.
• Public school children were more likely to meet an online stranger than children attending private schools. Girls at public schools took more online risks than girls at private schools.
• The majority of the child respondents took positive action in responding to an unpleasant contact either by blocking them or by closing the window. However, young people seemed reluctant to seek adult advice. • Children seem to enjoy their online privacy and protect their anonymity. As a result, most do not share their online experiences with adults.
• Most parents do not participate in online activities with their children. A large proportion of respondents were allowed unsupervised access to the internet and there was little significant variation by nationality, religion, age or gender.
• Cyber bullying was identified as a problem by young people and by teachers, particularly in private schools.
• Teachers suggested that cyber bullying or ‘teacher humiliation’ on SNS is becoming problematic particularly in the private school sector. Teachers often feel deskilled as many young people are more computer literate than they are.
• The majority of children had not received internet safety training at school, where they had received training, it tended to be provided on an ad-hoc basis.
Now the TRA has launched SafeSurf Bahrain, an online initiative aimed at educating parents on how to keep their kids safe online and also offering advice and tips for young surfers.
The webpage includes an online tutorial for parents, who may feel a bit left behind with all the new technology available from phones and apps to tablets etc.
The tutorial tackles jargon-busting and talks about online security and privacy protection, cyber bullying and illegal downloading as well as lots of other subjects.
It also makes a useful suggestion to use the guide together to get talking with kids about what’s going on in their online lives.
There are links to films, activities and advice sections and the website also has a useful section of smart tips for both adults and young people which give commonsense advice, such as making sure computers are in areas accessed by the whole family rather than where kids can surf alone and unsupervised.
Launching the site, TRA chairman Dr Mohammed Al Amer said: ‘Although we don’t believe cybercrime is a major problem in Bahrain, we recognise that there are some groups that are more at risk than others and we want to be proactive in preventing potential abuses.’ Log onto www.safesurf,bh.