Creating a level playing field



Using the Internet is fun!  Enjoy it most by keeping yourself safe.

   What Every Child Needs to Know How to be Safe Online

     SMART Rules

Children can do a lot of great things on the Internet such as playing games, chatting with friends, meeting new friends and finding a lot of useful social and educational information. They have the right to enjoy and explore all that the digital world has to offer.

However it is important that they should be aware of unpleasant things that can be found on the Internet, such as pornographic images and stories that may confuse or even frighten them.

 Friends and trusted adults are not the only people within this digital world. The Internet is also used by people who do not always have good intentions but also people who intend to harm, harass or bully other people. In using the Internet one needs to be aware of certain basic rules to safeguard themselves and others.

Internet users have the right to use the Internet safely and to set their own limits. One must be smart, responsible and safeguard themselves both online and in real life.

    Set Your Limits

    • Take care of your privacy and that of your family and friends, whether using a social networking site or any other online service. Do not ever assume that you safe and anonymous online, because  but collecting information from various sources can reveal too much private information about yourself and  others you are close to, including your family.
    • If you join a social networking site use the privacy settings to protect your online profile so that only your friends can see it. Wherever possible, do not reveal your real name; instead, use a nickname that your real friends will be able to recognize. Other interactive services, such as viber, whattsap, facebook, twitter and others will often provide privacy tools. Use them.
    • Think twice before you publish or share anything online. Are you prepared to share it with everyone online including strangers? Once information photographs or any other material is posted on the Internet, you may never be able to remove it or prevent other people from seeing or using it. You can never know for sure where it might end up.
    • Be aware of the fact that what may appear to be a fact may really not be true at all. Unfortunately, if it appears too good to be true, it probably is. Always double check the information from other reliable sources.
    • You have rights that you as well as other people should respect. You should never accept harassment or bullying by other people online. The laws and expectations of decent and acceptable behaviour apply both online and in real life.

             Meeting Online Friends Offline

 Sometimes online contacts develop into friends. Think twice before meeting an online friend in real life.

    • If you would like to meet an online friend offline, always take someone reliable with you. Ask your parent or another trusted adult to join you to avoid any trouble in case the meeting turns out to be a disappointment.
    • Always bear in mind that your online friend might turn out to be a different kind of person than you thought he or she would be.

            Accepting Invitations / Friendships

    • Most of the people you communicate with online are probably already your friends in real life. You can also be connected to the friends of your friends.
    • Always be careful when sharing information on line and use your discretion to distinguish between your real life friend, online friends and friends of friends.
    • Never accept friendship requests from strangers who might want to be included in your contact list and see your profile.
    • Do not accept invitations you are not sure about.

             Reacting to inappropriate content or requests

In real life there are people who for some reason, may behave aggressively, insultingly or provocatively towards others, or who want to share harmful content online.

Some online sites contain upsetting or distressing content. To protect yourself from such sites:

    • Do not knowingly access or share links to such sites.
    • If you see something that bothers you, talk about this with your parents or someone you trust.
    • Ignore bad behaviour and leave unpleasant conversations or sites with inappropriate content.
    • Block anyone approaching you using rude, intruding or threatening emails or
    • Comments especially if the message is upsetting and makes you feel uncomfortable.
    • Save all upsetting and threatening messages and show them to an adult for advice. Do not be ashamed to share such of the content / messages.
    • Block unwanted sites or friends that may upset or distress you in any way.
    • Always be alert if someone, especially a stranger, wants to talk to you about sex. Remember that you can never be sure of the true identity or the intentions of that person.
    • Approaching a child or a young person in a sexual way is a serious cause for concern. Report any such incidences to your nearest police station.
    • If you have been lured or tricked by someone into engaging in sexual activities or transmitting sexual images of yourself, you should always report it to nearest police station.

               Handling your concerns

    • If you have any concerns or problems while online, tell your parents or someone you can trust who should report to the nearest police station. You might also want to call call Childline Zimbabwe on their free helpline 116.
    • Report harmful or inappropriate content or activities to your parents who should report to the nearest police station or call  Childline Zimbabwe on their free helpline 116 oron their website or report online using theabuse e-mail of the host of the site
    • You can report illegal or possibly illegal activities to the nearest police station.
    • In addition to taking good care of yourself, you should also take care of your computer or mobile device.

               Making safe use of your computer

    There are some easy tips to remember in order to keep your computer and mobile device safe.

    • Make sure you have installed and learned how to use a firewall and anti-virus software. Remember to keep them up to date!
    • Learn about your computer’s operating system such as  Windows, Linux, etc) and especially about how to patch it and keep it up to date.
    • If parental controls are installed then talk to your parents and agree on the level that matches your age and needs. Do NOT  try to crack the limits.
    • If you receive a file you are unsure of or don’t know who has sent it, do NOT open it. This is the way Trojans and viruses infect your machine.
    • Be familiar with your machine and how it works so that you can act if you spot something unusual.
    • Learn to check who you are connected to.
    • Learn to use tools like “Netstat” which is a command-line tool that displays network connections (both incoming and outgoing).

              Your online rights

    • You have the right to make use of technologies to develop your personality and help increase your capabilities;
    • You have the right to protect your identity;
    • You have the right to participate, have fun and access information appropriate to your age and personality;
    • You have the right to express yourself freely, and be treated with respect while always respecting others;
    • You have the right to be critical and discuss anything you read or come across when online;
    • You have the right to say NO if someone makes you feel uncomfortable with his/her requests when online.