Tuesday 9 February is Safer Internet Day. This awareness day is celebrated globally, with the aim to highlight positive uses of technology, raise awareness of emerging online issues and to explore the role that we all play in helping to create a better and safer online community.
The theme for this year is ‘An internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world’. The campaign focuses on how we can decide what to trust online, supporting people to question, challenge and change the online world for the better.
The internet is a great source of information for young people and adults alike, and opportunities to research, learn new facts or skills, and even broaden viewpoints are extremely important to all internet users.
Being online is an important way for young people to build positive relationships - to play, interact and share their lives with their peers. As they navigate these social spaces, they are constantly making decisions about who and what to trust online in the context of playing games together and socialising online. Safer Internet Day gives young people the chance to build the skills they need to be able to make the best decisions as they navigate an online world where everything is not always as it seems.
We know that the issues of misinformation and ‘fake news’ do not solely affect young people, but that these issues do have a great impact on how young people feel about their time online. We want to help equip everyone with the skills they need to spot inaccurate content, which can sometimes be a complex task.
Fact checking and how to keep safe online
If you see something confusing, suspicious, alarming, or even too good to be true online, the tips below can help you decide whether you can trust it or not.
Consider the source: Where/who has this information come from and do we have reason to trust it? If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is.
Consider the motive: Why is this information online? Is someone getting paid to post it, or trying to influence public opinion?
Consider your own knowledge: What do you know about this already? Does what you see online say the same or something different? Do you know enough to decide whether to trust it? If not, then more research is needed.
Check several sources: Check another website, watch another video or read a different article. The more sources that say the same thing, and the more reliable those sources, the more likely it is that the information can be trusted.
What are other people saying? Reach out to friends or family members to get a second opinion. What are others are saying online in comments, reviews, or ratings? Remember, there is a chance these could be influenced by financial or personal gain too.
Payment methods: Where possible, avoid paying for any purchases online by bank transfer unless you know and trust the person or company. Bank transfer payments do not offer you protection if you become a victim of fraud. Where possible use a credit card, as most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
Take care with links in emails or texts: Some of the emails or texts you receive about offers may contain links to fake websites, designed to steal your money and personal details. Instead of using the received links, type the shop's website address manually into your browser, or find the website through a search engine (e.g. Google or Bing).
Take action: The last thing we want to do is spread inaccurate information further. Consider reporting it, or letting friends and family know it can’t be trusted.
How to support children in recognising false or misleading content
Talk together: Talk regularly with your child about how they use technology and where they go for information online. Discuss who they follow, what types of adverts they see and what stories they find surprising or suspicious. Listening to your child will give you the best possible idea of how you can support them.
Set an example: If you come across a fake news story, or get sent a phishing email, discuss with your child how you spotted it and what you did. Why not ask them for a second opinion? Your child may have already heard about it or seen something similar, and if not, it’s a learning opportunity for both of you. Seeing a parent actively question and evaluate online content teaches young people the importance of doing the same.
Think before you share: It can be tempting to share surprising or attention-grabbing online content with your child or your family group chats, but make sure to fact-check these links before you do. As it’s come from a parent, some children may believe it without questioning it, and older children may find it difficult or awkward to point out if it is false or misleading. This is another chance to set a good example in how to share information responsibly online.
Check in with your child: False and misleading content online can be upsetting and confusing, e.g. harmful claims that target specific groups, or unhealthy lifestyle tips. Young people may feel powerless when faced with the amount of unreliable content they see. Regularly check in with your child about their online life and ask them how what they see makes them feel. This is an issue that affects all of us. Reassure your child that you are there to talk about things that upset them and to support them with how they feel.
Seek help and support: Just as we ask young people to talk about what they are unsure of, make sure you do too! Chances are that you’ll find other parents or carers who are trying to figure out how to help their family avoid false information and get the most out of the internet.
Find out how to get more support by visiting Childnet’s ‘Need Help?’ page. You can take steps to support your child online by using features such as making a report on a range of apps, games and services, and using privacy settings on social media.
Safer Internet Day 2021 is a fantastic opportunity to have a conversation with your child around this year’s theme, ‘A internet we trust: exploring reliability in the online world.’
Not sure where to begin? Have a look at the UK Safer Internet Centre’s suggested ‘Conversation starters’ for parents and carers to help you get started with discussions around how we can all use the internet safely, responsibly, and positively.
There are some great activities and a family online safety plan that can help assist you and your family here.
Take part in a Safer Internet Quiz. This quiz is designed for 8-13 year olds, but can be played by anyone!
How to protect your accounts
Most cybercrimes could easily be avoided with the right protection on your devices. To help protect yourselves from these scams here are some handy tips to follow.
Open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from senders you don’t know.
Give out personal information, financial details or passwords in response to an email, text or phone call without verifying that the person is who they claim to be.
Keep all devices and antivirus software up-to-date.
Block any numbers that arouse suspicion.
Regularly check your mailbox for suspicious activity, including your sent items.
Set up spam filters on all of your accounts.
Review your devices privacy and security settings.
Keep strong and unique passwords. For another layer of security, add 2-factor or multi-factor authentication.
Always go to a website directly, by typing out the address yourself, when logging into an account.
Look out for fake websites - sense-check the domain name.
Regularly back up your data.
Cybercrime is becoming an increasing threat in our more digital society and criminals are finding new and inventive ways to try and get our personal data and information.
To help people feel safe and secure when they’re online, Derbyshire County Council have launched a brand new Digital MOT service.
It’s an online risk assessment tool that has been designed to help people review their online safety and identify any actions they can take to protect themselves.
All you have to do is answer a few simple questions about your online habits and you’ll be able to see the most important steps you can take to avoid falling victim to cyber-scammers.
The new COVID Fraud Hotline (0800 587 5030) has also been set up by in partnership with Crimestoppers to enable individuals to report fraud within the public sector during the pandemic. There is also an online reporting feature which can be found here: http://covidfraudhotline.org
If you need to seek further advice you can contact us via one of the following methods:
Facebook: send us a private message to /DerbyshireConstabulary
Twitter: direct message our contact centre on @DerPolContact