The internet is a fantastic resource, but also one which can be misused by both children and adults. These guidelines try to help you get the most out of cyberspace, without the scary bits! This page is particularly designed for our youth members. (If you are a Leader or Parent/ Guardian, please click here)
The Guidelines for Girls are divided into two sections. Section A has brief guidelines, suitable for Ladybirds and Brownies. Section B has more detailed explanations on each point, which Guides and Senior Branch members can explore. Click for more resources which will help to keep your online experience safe.
Our guidelines are based on the ‘Savvy Surfin’ guidelines of Girl Guides New Zealand, so many thanks to them for permission to adapt their internet guidelines.
1. Safe - staying safe means being careful and not giving out your name, address, mobile phone number, Unit details, or any of your passwords to people online.
2. Meeting someone in real life who you first met in cyberspace can be dangerous. Only do so with your parent’/carer’s permission and when they are present.
3. Accepting emails and opening files from people you don’t really know or trust can get you into trouble - they may contain viruses or nasty messages.
4. Remember someone online may be lying and not be who they say they are. If you feel uncomfortable when chatting or messaging, end the conversation.
5. Tell your parent or carer if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried.
1. The reason why you shouldn’t give out your personal information to those you don’t know is that you can’t be sure where it will end up, what it will be used for and who may contact you. Often companies will ask you to register with them online because they are interested in selling you something. Don’t be fooled by some of the online quizzes or raffles!
Always ask for an adult’s opinion if you are giving out your personal details. Be careful when filling out ‘profiles’ in clubs or communities. These are public areas of the Internet which people can search on and then contact you.
When entering a chat room you are often asked to give out your AGE, SEX, & LOCATION (ASL). Use a nickname and don’t be specific about your location.
2. Sadly some young people have met up with people they thought they knew on the internet and have ended up being hurt - see for example www.chatdanger.com. So remember the old ‘stranger = danger’ rule, even if you’ve been chatting to someone for a long time who doesn’t feel like a stranger.
There are lots of stories about how people have made real friends through the internet and this has obviously involved meeting up face to face after chatting online. However, it is important to remember that people may not be who they say they are and both young people and adults can be fooled into meeting someone who they might not wish to meet. Take a trusted adult with you for support.
There are a number of excellent safe website resources which allow you to connect to others in a moderated environment. A good example is www.gridclub.com.
3. Be wary not to download viruses which damage your computer and some email attachments can include unpleasant pictures or links to websites.
If you do give out a lot of personal information about yourself when you sign up for a new product or when you enter a competition you may find that you are then bombarded with SPAM or junk mail. If you have a web mail account you are more likely to get junk mail. Being safe online means making sure that you are careful about knowing how to filter junk email and block individual senders in your email software programme.
Be very careful not to open attachments from people or organisations which you don’t know and make sure you have an anti-virus software protection system on your computer which is updated. This is not only to protect you from receiving viruses but also to stop your machine from passing viruses onto others by mistake.
4. It’s important to remember that you are in charge when you’re online and can choose the people you want to talk to. However, keep all conversations open. Don’t be encouraged to have the conversation in a ‘private’ room.
Whenever you sign on in a chat room, you have to give yourself an alias or nickname. It’s always best to stay on the side of caution and if you feel uncomfortable with the way a conversation is going you have several options:
● Stop and leave the chat room.
● Block the person who is making you uncomfortable so they can no longer contact you.
If it is really serious, then you can report them to the chat host or moderator. If someone is pestering you to meet up or hassling you, it may be that they aren’t the nice person they say they are and may be lying about their age, interests, and even their sex.
Just like individuals can lie on line, so organisations and companies can also mislead you. Just because someone has put something up on a website doesn’t mean it is true. Also many advertising banners, pop-ups and links can be misleading. Being safe online means you need to ask questions and check whether information on websites is true.
5. It can feel really upsetting to get something by email which you didn’t want and lots of times it can be through no fault of your own. Similarly it can be really creepy if you trusted someone you were chatting with, and then weren’t sure.
Everyone makes mistakes and so it is always best to talk to a friend, Guide Leader or parent if someone or something you see or receive online makes you feel uncomfortable. You can report anything you think is illegal to www.hotline.ie which works to combat illegal child pornography on the Internet.
A great resource is an online game produced by the Council of Europe. Visit www.wildwebwoods.org and have a go at playing the game yourself. It’s ideal for teaching children about basic internet safety in a fun and friendly fairytale environment. It is suitable for Ladybird age and upwards, even Leaders can have fun playing it!
The majority of Guides and Senior Branch members are likely to have a Bebo or MySpace page. Bebo’s safety page is a very good source of information on how to have fun on your page without putting yourself or your friends at risk on the world wide web. Visit the page here and you can view the videos and animated guidelines.
The MySpace safety page has videos and advice on how to maintain a safe profile and how to protect yourself from cyberbullying.
Facebook is largely used by teens and adults alike and we recommend that users would adhere to their safety guidelines.
Did you know O2 phone provider has a blocking service? Visit their page for more information.
Check out these links for great tips on how to stay safe online: