Nowadays, young people are becoming more and more computer literate due to the amount of technology available at their fingertips. Many of them talk to friends using a variety of different channels, including the ever increasing social networks.
It’s now the start of the summer holidays and John Dwyer, Police & Crime Commissioner for Cheshire and Dominic Rogers, the Youth Ambassador want to remind people about staying safe on the internet.
The importance of keeping young people safe on the internet was brought to the fore front again this week when a local paper printed a story about an 18-year-old man who groomed and sexually assaulted a 13-year-old girl after meeting her online.
The man was sentenced to 16 months in a young offenders’ institute (he was 17 when the incident took place) after the court heard how he befriended his victim on Facebook, spoke to her over a number of weeks making the girl think that he cared about her. However, as time progressed he started to make inappropriate comments and eventually asked her to meet up with him, and then sexually assaulted her.
Cheshire Constabulary are warning parents to be vigilant, and urging them to make use of the help and advice that is available to ensure that their children are safe online.
John Dwyer said: "There are some horrible people in this world, who enjoy preying on the vulnerable and the innocent. This case highlights some of the issues that we face when using social networks.
I fully support Cheshire Constabulary’s stance on this. It’s important for parents to check and monitor what their children are doing on social media. I’d urge parents and young people to look at the advice and information out there, and think twice before they befriend people they don’t know on social networks."
Dominic Rogers said: "It is important that young people learn from this shocking event and do not befriend people on social networking sites that they do not know. If any young person is worried about someone on social media I would encourage them to talk to an adult."
A quick guide to staying safe on the internet can be found below:
If you feel uncomfortable with what people are saying to you online, or they send you inappropriate photos/videos, tell someone.
If you have a profile on Facebook, Twitter (or any other social media site) make sure that your security settings are set to private. This way only people you choose will be able to see your profile
Use a screen name or nickname in chat rooms
Report any suspicious activity to the social media site (e.g. fake profiles)
Post anything you wouldn’t want to share with the rest of the world.
Be careful. People that you’re talking to may not be who they say they are.
Meet up with people you’ve met on the internet. They may not be who you think they are.
Give people private information about yourself. This can be your phone number, address, bank details, etc.
Use your full name, or your real name in chat rooms
Send inappropriate photos/videos of yourself or others.
Additional information about keeping yourself safe online can be found on the Think U Know website www.thinkuknow.co.uk.