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Best practices for safe social networking

Social networking
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

Social media is a wonderful tool to help stay connected with family and friends. It has bridged distances and brought the world closer as never before. The best feature of this kind of connectivity is the pleasure derived from being able to share our lives with others and feel involved in theirs. However, as with many innovations, social networking comes with its own set of challenges, which is why moderation and caution need to be exercised at all times.

Social networking sites are online platforms where users can create a personal profile and interact with others on the same site. The idea is to connect with friends by sharing personal information and that is where, knowingly or otherwise, we can become vulnerable. The virtual world often encourages us to reveal much more about ourselves than we would if we were meeting someone in person. This makes it important to observe basic rules and guidelines to stay safe while making optimal use of technology.

Here are some of the best practices for safe social networking. These will ensure you make use of social media in the most positive way and help to eliminate risks associated with it.

  • Never disclose too much information about yourself such as contact details, your address or your daily schedule.
  • Go through the terms and conditions even if they might seem tiresome to read. Check out if there are adequate privacy measures in place and change any default settings to those that provide you with maximum security. Ideally, your profile should be visible only to your friends, and not to friends of friends.
  • Disable the geolocation feature so that details about your location are never included in your posts.
  • Make sure you are aware how to block unwanted users from connecting with you and accessing your content.
  • Pick a user name that is neutral and protect your account by using strong passwords that include upper and lower case letters, symbols and digits. It is always a good idea to change passwords regularly.
  • Watch out for any posts in which you are tagged by your friends and for any comments that might reveal unnecessary personal details about your location, routine and activities. Never post any holiday dates that might end up as a valuable resource for a burglar.
  • Guard against fake friend requests and posts from groups asking you to visit and ‘like’ their pages. Be wary of strangers on social media just as you would in the real world.
  • While commenting on posts, make it a point to remain neutral and never get into any arguments on any sensitive topics that might be construed as offensive.
  • Ensure that you have installed internet security programs on your computer and that all anti-virus software is up to date. As “malware” or malicious code spreads via the social network, be wary of links posted on your friend’s profile pages. Do not click on obscured URLs without verifying them (by using URL preview services such as expandmyurl.com or longurlplease.com) first. Once you have determined the site as genuine, use a bookmark to access that site in future.
  • Guard against hijacking of your account by looking out for any warning signs – for example, passwords not working or any logins into your account at times when you were not online. You can set up alerts that send you an email if your account was accessed from a different location, or a different device from the one you usually use.

A little prudence will go a long way in keeping your social networking account private and safe. Keep the above steps in mind while you enjoy communicating with your friends, no matter where you are in the world.

 

Facebook fundamentals – privacy settings you can share with your students

Facebook
Greg Johnson Greg Johnson

Classroom instruction has undergone a major shift, with technology replacing many traditional means of teaching and interaction. Today, teachers increasingly use social media as a platform for communicating with their pupils and as a hub for discussion with both parents and students. Facebook pages have become a great way to post updates for students and also keep parents informed about classroom activities.

On the flip side, however, social media can create a dilemma for educators when it comes to separating their professional and personal profiles online. Pupils may be intrigued by their teachers’ lives and take a look at their private photos or check out their network of friends So, is it possible for teachers to maintain privacy in the digital sphere?

If you are an educator who is wondering how you can use social media in the classroom without compromising your privacy, here are a few tips that can help your personal profile remain discrete from your professional one.

The very first step – check your privacy settings

Click on the lock symbol on the Facebook toolbar and it will take you through a three-part privacy check to determine who can view and access your posts and profile. Always ensure that this is set to “friends”. If a little globe icon appears when you are about to share an update, it means that the post will be public and that you need to re-set your privacy settings.

See how your profile appears to the public

If you want to check how your profile appears when viewed by the general public or by a particular friend, Facebook has the “View as” tool that appears as three dots at the top of your profile page, beside the “view Activity log” button. This will show you exactly what is visible to others when they access your personal page and you can then take necessary steps to filter that information.

Set up “Pages” or “Groups”

You can set up a page or create a group on Facebook that your students can access and use to communicate with each other and share updates. These pages are independent of your personal profile and you do not need to add the members of your group as friends. You can also customise the privacy settings of this group to disclose only what you choose to share with your professional connections.

Protect your friend network

As almost the whole world is on Facebook, you will be invariably connected to half of that world. If a student does manage to find you, chances are that they may stumble upon the contacts on your friend list and access profiles of several other teachers and common acquaintances. You can prevent this by clicking on the Friends tab on your profile and then the pencil icon, appearing at the top right-hand corner.

Make your past photos inaccessible

You may prefer to keep your old photos from your earliest posts on Facebook private.

You can apply the “Limit old posts” option by going to Settings and then to Privacy. To keep it most secure, you could select “friends only” from the list.

Clean up the apps

When we play games on Facebook, we inadvertently give the app the permission to access our profiles and post to our timelines. It is best to be in complete control of what is being posted on your behalf. Therefore, it is worthwhile doing a regular clean-up of your apps by deleting them from the Settings tab.

Make your profile inaccessible to search engines

The easiest way to find information on a topic or on a person is to look them up on Google. One way to prevent your students from being able to find you online is to ensure that your profile does not appear in the search results by Google or other search engines. In order to do this, go to your Privacy Settings and edit the search engine option.

Watch out for the tags

Friends may tag you in posts as a reminder of the good times you have shared, but these posts might be more informal than the image you would prefer to project to your students. As you have no control over the audience who sees the post, it is best to remove the tag and request your friends delete the posts altogether. You can also customise the options in the Timeline and Tagging section in Settings, to limit the tags that show up on your timeline.

How to boost the morale of a cyberbullying victim

Cyberbullying
Mark Kingham Mark Kingham

With the world becoming increasingly digital and the Internet a necessity, everybody, including children, should be given an equal opportunity to embrace this technology and develop as an integral part of our new digital world.

However, as parents and teachers it is understandable that you could have concerns about cyberbullying.  To keep your children or pupils safe online, teach them how to face cyberbullying with confidence. Start by implementing a culture of respect and safety right from the beginning and reassure them that cyberbullying is preventable.

The Cyber Scene project led by Masterclass is an interesting example of how to deal with cyberbullying and build innovative approaches to tackle such issues. The project was conducted in partnership with the anti-bullying charity Kidscape and a team of professional theatre makers. It revealed that working with young people in this medium helps explore and share their experiences of cyberbullying, as well as the effects it has on them and their peers.

Raising the curtain on cyberbullying

Have you considered using drama as a way to explore this topic? The Masterclass project creatively depicts how theatre-based workshops can help boost the morale of a victim. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the project.

Why theatre?

Through theatre workshops, the team at Masterclass develop victims’ stories into a play that is performed by them on stage. They also get the chance to work with a publisher to publish the play once it has been written. In order to raise public awareness about the very real and serious issues facing young people online, the team documents the project in the form of a recording, video, blog and of course, a performance.

“The Masterclass theatre project funded by the Royal British Legion was a turning point in my recovery. While the medical teams put my body back together, taking part in the play ‘The Two Worlds of Charlie F’ gave me back my self-esteem and confidence when it was at its lowest ebb,” said Cassidy Little, from Bravo 22 Company.

How can teachers deal with cyberbullying?

Read our article from the archives to get a thorough understanding of what cyberbullying is.  Here are some ways to help your pupils fight cyberbullying with confidence.

Understand

Cyberbullying can happen anywhere and therefore it is advisable for teachers to be aware of the forms that cyberbullying can take and its characteristics. Also, teachers should be aware of their school’s policy on tackling bullying, and how to prevent and respond to such incidents.

Prevent

To prevent cyberbullying in schools, teachers need to be proactive in discussing the issue with pupils. This will help students feel more comfortable in coming forward and sharing their experiences. In addition, awareness of cyberbullying must be raised across the whole school. It is not enough for just the teachers to be involved, the entire school community must join hands to promote mutual respect and trust, which can help combat cyberbullying.

Respond

Whenever a student encounters a situation that makes them uncomfortable online, it is important that they feel empowered to seek help from their teachers. Both teachers and pupils need to know how to raise their concerns. Students should also be advised never to respond to upsetting images or messages. Instead, they should be encouraged to save those messages for evidence.

If your school has been looking out for an e-Safety solution software that will help you detect cyberbullying incidents, then contact us today.

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