Eastern Courier : January 12th 2011
www.easterncourier.co.nz Wednesday, January 12, 2011 Facing the danger By KRISTINA RAPLEY Online dangers: The number of young children using social networking sites is a concern. Photo: JASON OXENHAM ' The big issue for me is safety, emotional as well as physical. Kids that age haven't built up their resilience skills yet. ' Principal Catherine Rivers PLAYGROUNDS are no longer the territory of bullies. Most of it happens online now. St Mark's Catholic School principal Catherine Rivers is concerned about the number of primary and intermediate children with facebook accounts. The age restriction is 13 but Mrs Rivers says most of her students in the nine to 11 age group use the social networking site. She carried out a survey after an approach from a parent whose child was upset about comments posted by a fellow student on her per- sonal page. Mrs Rivers surveyed year 5 and 6 students at the Pakuranga school and was surprised to learn about 85 percent of them had facebook accounts. I was absolutely shocked,'' she says. I'm not sure parents quite realise the implications of allowing chil- dren on to these sites.'' She is hoping to hold an information evening for parents about the dangers later this year. The big issue for me is safety, emotional as well as physical. Kids that age haven't built up their resilience skills yet.'' Howick police senior con- stable Adele White is an edu- cation officer who regularly talks to students and parents about cyber safety. She says she has heard many horror stories about children using social networking sites. Younger children tend to treatitasabitofagameand are not totally aware of the consequences of divulging personal information on the internet.'' Some of the issues she has dealt with range from inap- propriate comments about classmates, joining hate groups with dangerous material, to young girls being conned into meeting someone with negative intentions face- to-face. Her advice to parents with children using social networking sites is to make sure they are supervised and educated about cyber safety. She recommends NetSafe an independent non-profit organisation that promotes responsible use of cyberspace and has lots of practical infor- mation for children, parents and adults. NetSafe advice for parents Talk with your children about cyberbullying and make sure they understand the issue. Reassure your child that you will not remove their technology as a reaction. Talk with your child about what images posted online or sent on a cellphone could get sent on to others and be used to bully or embarrass them. Save messages and images. You can save messages on a mobile phone and take screen shots of bullying on websites or instant messenger chats. This may be used later if you report the bullying. If the bullying involves physical threats, contact the police. Visit www.netsafe.org.nz for more information.
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