FINANCIAL RISKS Another financial risk related to i nternet use is called ‘dumping’. Internet dumping occurs when somebody is tricked into disconnecting from the internet at the normal cheaper rate and unknowingly reconnecting at a more expensive rate. It often occurs when you click on a web page element, such as a picture or link, which contains a malicious computer code. The expensive rates are usually an international or premium number, such as the 190, 191, 192 prefix numbers. These numbers are often timed, so the longer you stay connected, the more expensive the account will be. If a large sum of money appears mysteriously on your telephone bill, you may have been a victim of an internet dumping scam. HARASSMENT AND BULLYING Cyber bullying can be carried out through internet services such as email, chat rooms, discussion groups, instant messaging or web pages. It can also include bullying through mobile phone technologies such as SMS. Cyber bullying can include teasing and being made fun of, spreading rumours online, sending unwanted messages and defamation. PERSONAL INFORMATION AND PRIVACY Just as you would not provide personal information to someone you meet on the street, neither should you do so on the internet. Issues to do with identity protection revolve mainly around web authoring and website requests for such information. Creating web pages can be a fun and educational experience for children. However, there is a danger that children will post home addresses and other personal details on websites, including photographs of themselves or other children. This carries the risk of such material being used inappropriately. Likewise, placing a child’s email address on a website could lead to them receiving offensive emails. UNRELIABLE INFORMATION Information on some websites may misrepresent the truth, be misleading, be out of date, biased or just incorrect. Some racist websites claim to tell or represent the truth about complex social, cultural or historical issues in ways that appear logical and plausible. Such websites are known to actively merchandise or even recruit people. SPAM Spam is the email equivalent of junk mail or nuisance telephone calls. Spam is simply any unsolicited electronic mail sent in bulk to individuals or organisations. It can include viruses or pornographic content. Spam is becoming increasingly prevalent and is an issue for anyone with a personal email address. Filters can be used to prevent spam from entering a mailbox, but spammers are using increasingly sophisticated techniques to bypass filters. Children need to recognise and delete spam without opening it. COMMUNICATION Internet technologies such as email, chat rooms and electronic conferencing are fast, easy and effective means of communicating and sharing information. Internet enabled devices including mobile and camera phones and personal digital assistant (PDAs) can also be used for text messaging and exchanging photographs or video. There are, however, some risks associated with using these technologies: Emails can contain virus-infected attachments or be used to bully and harass, including of sexual harassment or racial vilification. Text messages can be used for the same purpose. In chat rooms the same risks apply, and in unmoderated chat room environments, people may adopt false identities. This is known as ‘online grooming’. Children need parents and carers to help teach them how to stay safe online. You may wish to think about the following to help your family: Spend time online with your children and explore websites together. Take an interest in what they like to do online. Help your children use the Internet as an effective research tool - learn about handy homework tips for children and also good searching ideas.