Microsoft and the PSNI kick off Safer Internet Day 2009

As I’ve mentioned in the past, Microsoft and the Police Service of Northern Ireland partnered to deliver a series of presentations to Primary schools students across the Province. There were 19 pairs visiting 21 schools. Rather than write up the whole thing, I’ll just copy in the Microsoft Ireland blog site:

Belfast: February 9th 2009 – To mark Safer Internet Day, which takes place across Europe on the 10th February, 2009, the Police Service of Northern Ireland and Microsoft will be visiting 25 primary schools across Northern Ireland on the 9th and 10th February 2009, to deliver internet safety talks.

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P7 pupils from St MacNissi's Primary School, Newtownabbey are pictured along with Constable Brian Herron and Tom Jackson from Microsoft.   The Police Service and Microsoft are visiting 25 Primary Schools across NI to deliver internet safety talks.

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Me, Brian Herron of the PSNI and the P7 students from St MacNissi’s PS

Dympna Thornton, the PSNI’s Education Advisor, explains why it is important for young people to be aware of issues associated with Internet usage:

“Lots of young people access the internet under the guidance or supervision of a teacher or parent. This may be to source information to help them complete school projects. As children get older, they may also start to use the Internet to keep in touch with friends through social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace or Bebo. “We want young people to be aware that the information which they share with others may actually be accessed by a wider audience and viewed by people who are not necessarily friends. Following the steps outlined below can help to keep them safe and prevent them from becoming a victim of malicious behaviour, crime or fraud.”

Research published by Microsoft today shows that 27 per cent of teens across the UK have experienced bullying online with 3 out of 10 experiencing it frequently. The survey also found 66% of teens surf the internet without any restrictions from their parents. To mark EU Internet Safety Day which takes place today, Microsoft and the PSNI have issued tips for parents and teens to help create a safer online environment.

The research also found that of those teens that have experienced bullying online, six out of ten experienced it while instant messaging and 44% were bullied on social networking sites. Just over three quarters (73%) of those surveyed have never reported online bullying and half (56%) believe the internet makes it easier to bully.

Peter Russell, Public Sector Director, Microsoft Ireland outlines the industry’s commitment to improving Internet safety:

“The internet is a fantastic resource for finding and sharing information, as well as connecting and communicating with friends and family. However due to its size it can be difficult to regulate and it’s very important that internet users ensure that they take the appropriate measures to protect their online safety, similar to the way in which we all take precautions to prevent our property getting stolen.

“With a view to embedding good internet usage behaviour from an early age, 25 Microsoft volunteers teamed up with the Police Service to deliver a series to presentations to school children across Northern Ireland. The 30 minute presentation provided a number of tips that young people should use when surfing the net, setting up profiles or communicating with others in chat rooms.”

Some tips to help you stay safe when setting up a profile on Facebook, MySpace or Bebo:

  • Never use your real name
  • Never tell anyone personal things about yourself or your family such as your address, phone number or the name of your school
  • Instead of posting a photo of yourself, consider using a picture you like or a photo of your favourite band.
  • Don’t post photos or videos that you wouldn’t be happy for your parents or teacher to see. Once online they can be copied and posted in other places where you can’t get rid of them.
  • Keep passwords private and don’t tell anyone, not even your best friend.

Once you have registered and set up your profile you can start adding friends

  • Don’t add anyone you don’t know, even if they say they know you.
  • If someone contacts you with weird or nasty messages, don’t reply to them but do save the messages. Tell someone you trust such as a parent as soon as possible and show them what you have been sent.
  • When writing a blog, be careful about what you write in it. Don’t include too many details about yourself.
  • Don’t arrange to meet in person someone you have met online. Some people lie online and may not be who they say they are.
  • If someone you are unsure of contacts you on a forum, contact the forum administrator.

All the pupils who attended a presentation also received a booklet on gaming called ‘Play Safe, Play Smart’ and ‘Family Safety’ courtesy of Microsoft. Guidelines on internet safety can be viewed online at www.microsoft.com/protect and www.ceop.gov.uk.

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