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What are the risks that I as a parent should be looking out for?

As is always the case, with each of the different types of technologies there are both positives and negatives. There is a wide range of excellent sites such as www.webwise.ie and www.thinkuknow.co.uk that provide more detailed information on the various positive and potentially negative aspects of the technology our children use on the internet today. Broadly speaking the key areas of concern that parents should be aware of are as follows:

  1. Anonymous Nature - Parents should be aware that by its nature the Internet allows users to retain their anonymity, particularly in the context of chat rooms and instant messaging. It’s important that children are taught to understand that people they are in contact with may not be what they seem and that they should be very careful in terms of how they interact with others and what kind of information that they should disclose to others accordingly.
  2. Security Issues - Increasingly young people are placing large amounts of personal information on the internet, whether it’s through profiles on social networking sites or disclosing information in conversations in chat rooms. The disclosure of such information may leave them a t risk of the information being used by others to perpetrate fraudulent actions in their names.
  3. Cyberbullying – parents should be aware of the potential risk of individuals using the various types of internet technology and/or materials from the internet for defamatory purposes.