A recent poll of 2,500 upper primary and secondary school children in Singapore found that a third of the older students and a tenth of the younger ones had met someone they had first encountered online in the past year. About a third of the students who had these meet-ups rated the encounters as slightly or “very unpleasant”.
While parents can do their bit to protect children from internet dangers , children too must be aware about online safety. Here’s what you can remind your child to do:
• Don’t talk online to someone you don’t know — and please remember that people can and do lie online. You don’t know for sure that the “cute boy” or “smart girl” you are chatting with is really a boy/girl and not some older guy unless you already met them. And sometimes, people can write things that you don’t really like. Whereas if you have met them face-to-face and talked with them, you may be able to see if they are pretending to be something they are not.
• Ignore “friend” requests from people you have not already met in real life (remember that people can lie)
• Don’t share personal details such as address (either typing it out or showing it in pictures), what school you go to (in text or pictures), credit card information and passwords. Online accounts are vulnerable to hacking and even strangers can hijack an account and pretend to be your friend. Small bits of information posted online can also be pieced together to locate you and cause you harm.
• Topics that should never be discussed online with someone you haven’t met yet: Sex, drugs, violence and anything that could get the Police involved.
• Anyone who asks you for money or help, you need to tell your parents immediately.
• If you are on a game chat, only talk about the game. Don’t share your life story/details.