Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Internet Safety

Among the resources I used to learn about internet safety, I was most fascinated by the PBS Frontline series, Growing Up Online. The program covered a variety of pertinent issues; everything from online predators, to cyber identities, to cyberbullying, to the implementation and presence of the internet in the classroom. I found it very interesting that despite the cautionary tone of much of the program, Frontline was careful to also show the dangers of hysteria, and the value of smart internet use.

I also loved the Ensign article by Mario Hipol, Fighting Internet Filth. It gave specific, applicable advice to parents on how to protect their children - and themselves - from sexual predators, accidental contact with pornography, and identity theft, among other things. Elder Bednar's talk, Things as They Really Are, was an interesting look at virtual identities. Often, when we think of internet danger, we focus more on pedophiles and stalkers, not realizing that the biggest danger might be of our own creating.

The last video I watched, Top 5 Ways Students Are Compromising Their Identity, was the most informative for me, and contained the most new information for me. I had never thought that simply by blogging about my dog or my grandma, I would be giving away answers to my security questions that an identity thief could use against me by opening my bank account online, for example.

I decided to share what I learned with my friend Tim. We are both online all the time, and I thought he might benefit from some of the information I had acquired. He agreed that the video on identity theft was the most useful, as it is something we hardly take time to think about. Nearly everyone picks the name of a pet or his mother's maiden name to protect important passwords. Tim brought up the good point that on Facebook, people often overshare, by leaving their addresses, phone numbers, multiple contacts, even school schedules, work locations, or social events, leaving them exposed to the attacks of identity thiefs, stalkers, or spamming.

Mario Hipol's talk was also the most useful in terms of explaining how to protect yourself. Tim uses an online filter, and we both try to avoid downloading unnecessary software from the internet, which can gum up the computer and put us at risk.

Very cool stuff!

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