E-mail, texting, social networks, chat rooms, instant messaging and online games: they are integral parts of the way young people communicate and socialize. However, the use of the Web varies depending on the age of the minor. The younger ones are increasingly more connected to and curious about the Internet, yet inexperienced. This means they see cyberspace just as a place for fun, games and social connections and not as a poorly controlled place where they can even unintentionally find unsuitable content for their age. The older kids are usually more aware than their parents and teachers of the opportunities offered by the web.
To protect young people, they must be taught to surf in a attentive and responsible manner, while maintaining great caution toward strangers “met” on the Internet and avoiding communicating their own or other's personal information.
For this reason, parents and teachers must teach them to recognize suspicious behaviour that may lurk on the Net, in addition to encouraging children and young people to be considerate and respectful towards others.
Advice to children and teenagers
- Never give your personal information such as your name, address, phone number, age, names of your family members and your school references.
- Do not make purchases online without the permission or supervision of your parents.
- Do not participate in online contests and do not fill in forms on the Web. Some of these initiatives hide dangerous scams. Be careful not to insert your personal data and information as it may be “stolen” and used for illegal purposes.
- Be respectful to your friends even when you are online. Never use vulgar or abusive language. The rules of good manners also apply in the virtual world.
- Do not reply to those you do not know and do not open e-mail advertising attachments. These messages may hide software that is dangerous and harmful for your PC or images that are unsuitable for you.
- Do not share your personal password with your friends. Your data is confidential and belongs only to you.
- Do not agree to meet someone you met on the Net. On the web it is easy to hide your identity and pretend to be someone you are not. Learn to be wary and to always inform your parents if someone has asked you to meet or send information or photos.
- If someone has offended you or used foul language towards you, immediately inform your parents. They will explain that it is not your fault and they will teach you to react and defend yourself against such incidents.
- Immediately interrupt a conversation that makes you feel embarrassed or uneasy and immediately inform your parents of what happened.
- Do not download programs from the Internet without having asked your parents for permission first. What you find does not always correspond to what you are searching. You may inadvertently download malicious programs, prohibited to minors or covered by copyright.