Cork pupils get lesson on internet safety

Security, safety, and ethics were the key search terms in Cork yesterday as hundreds of primary and secondary school pupils in 11 schools across the county were given a practical crash course on the potential dangers of the internet.

Intel Security, which has its European, Middle East, and Africa headquarters in Mahon, yesterday sent a team of volunteers to various schools to mark the company’s Global Community Day and to impart words of wisdom for safe online practice.

Vice-president of engineering, Paul Walsh, led a team of six volunteers to Christ King Girls Secondary School on South Douglas Rd. He said the aim of the talks was to empower young people to use the internet wisely rather than scare them off going online.

Speaking to a class of second-year students at Christ King, Mr Walsh warned them of the traces their online activity can leave. “Everything you do leaves a record: We call it a digital footprint and it leaves a history of what you do online,” he said.

Cork pupils get lesson on internet safety

The discussion looked at issues such as password protection, fake sites, and the dangers of spam and pop-up advertisements.

Mr Walsh warned that ‘free’ apps often come loaded with terms and conditions that can result in users unknowingly granting the software access to a phone’s or tablet’s emails, texts, photo gallery, and even, in some cases, camera.

The safety aspect of the presentation showed the young women just how quickly pictures they send to one person can go viral.

They were also warned that despite the premise of Snapchat, pictures sent that apparently ‘self-delete’ after seconds can still be captured and stored permanently. This can be achieved through apps designed to retain Snapchat messages or by using a phone’s simple screengrab function.

Facebook users were warned to only befriend people on the social network that they know in real life — and were shown how easy it is to make a convincing fake account using information on display in one’s photos and location check-ins.

The class was also given advice on how to handle cyberbullying — and warned of the consequences of engaging in such behaviour.

“If you wouldn’t say it in person, don’t say it online” was the mantra of the ethics in online communication segment of the discussion.

READ MORE: 10 things you should know before posting pictures of your children on social media

Top five tips

Take a screenshot of the offending material. This means that a record of it exists even if the offender tries to hide their tracks and delete it.

Don’t feed the ‘troll’. Bullies thrive on knowing they have had an impact.

Tell someone. Do not suffer alone, tell a friend, a parent or someone you trust.

Report the bully. Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and most social networking and messaging sites and apps have inbuilt measures to block and ban abusers.

Call the gardaí if the bullying persists.

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