On Facebook you are giving yourself away completely

On Facebook you are giving yourself away completely

I didn’t come up with the title for this article. Nor is it quoted from some expert on social media. The statement was made by a 13-year-old Maltese boy who took part in a study by EU Kids Online and the London School of Economics and Political Science, involving 9-16 year olds in nine European countries, including Malta. The results of the study “The meaning of online problematic situations for children”, which have just been published, sheds important light on how children perceive potential risks and negative experiences on internet and how they react to them. The study concludes that “Overall, the most common online problematic situation includes the sending of content that is violent, vulgar, or sexual. Other problematic situations include perpetrating, experiencing, and/or witnessing hateful, vulgar, or nasty messages. Although less covered in the risk literature, some involve being killed, cursed, excluded, and/or verbally assaulted in online games. Lastly, some include meeting online peers offline, sending “friend” requests or communicating with strangers not their own age.” Maltese children are aware of internet addiction but have no qualms in accessing illegal content and downloading illegal games, software, videos and music as they don’t see any harm in it. The role of the mass media in reporting stories about dangers and the consequences of negative experiences online is revealed quite clearly as children tend to get influenced by the media’s sensationalism in cases such as ‘stranger danger’ which they are less likely to experience. Prevention seems to be favoured more than support-seeking by the interviewed children, and girls are more likely to seek social support than boys. The study makes...
Stay safe, have fun, enjoy sport!

Stay safe, have fun, enjoy sport!

“I love playing football because it is fun”. This was one of the most popular responses children gave in a recent national survey conducted by The Football Association. The internet has become part of the social fabric and the way it is used can affect a child’s safety as well as the level of enjoyment the child gets out of sport. Take the example of John* a 13-year old boy with a proud father who wanted to further his son’s football career. In his determination for John to join a professional academy, the father used a social media website to promote his son to clubs and their scouting network. This may seem innocuous enough as it showcased John’s considerable talent through videos and photos. However, the information uploaded led to the child being groomed by an adult posing as a scout. As a result John was placed at risk of significant harm which had a direct impact on his ability to enjoy the beautiful game of football. Parents, coaches and children need a safe way of communicating. This ensures that not only are the rights of the child being safeguarded but also that the necessary messages are getting through. Having the ability to communicate effectively can improve players’ and parents’ sense of belonging to a particular club and can also enhance coaching techniques. Social media can also encourage team spirit but this is an area where additional parental supervision may be required. Children on the same team can form groups on social media websites to discuss games and build a positive sense of belonging. Adult monitoring is necessary to...
Are Parents the best teachers? by Mikela Fenech Pace

Are Parents the best teachers? by Mikela Fenech Pace

I have no shame in actually admitting that I am a massive phone addict. I love chatting and keeping in contact so naturally social media simply feeds my addiction. So much so that my thumb on my right finger is already showing the signs of mobile distress and often cramps up. My husband has often made the point that I should actually put my phone down and ignore it especially when at home. He would even send me messages on my phone as a joke – a poignant one need I add. Admittedly, I did try a few times, falling back into my usual phone routine shortly after. Until the day I became the butt end of my children’s jokes. ‘Mummy is always on the phone’, ‘Mummy loves her phone’, ‘Ma, get off the phone I am speaking to you’. Children have a great way of hitting where it really does hurt. So my new resolution is to put my phone away when the kids get home and leave it on charge. Check it once when I put them to bed and leave it there till I get to bed. Unlike our children we were not brought up with technology.  We used to sneak around the house and pick up the phone to call our friends hoping our parents wouldn’t pick up and notice. I can still hear my parents’ screams to get off the phone, leave the phone available etc etc. ‘What on earth do you need to speak to a friend you’ve just spent a day at school with?’ my mother would rant. We would spend hours...
Support to Victims of Cybercrime

Support to Victims of Cybercrime

The internet is a powerful tool which has changed the world we live in. As with all things, it has its good side and its bad side. Negative consequences arising from widespread internet use include online stalking and bullying, online fraud, and hacking. These activities can be widely classified as ‘cybercrime’. When someone becomes the victim of such crimes, they may suffer negative consequences. These may include feelings of anger, fear, embarrassment and lack of confidence. It is therefore useful to know that there is a service aimed at helping such victims. Victim Support Malta, a registered, non-profit organisation, has been providing support to victims of crime for a number of years. The services offered by Victim Support Malta include emotional support to all types of victims of crime, in order to enable them to talk and overcome their negative feelings. We also give legal advice about for instance, whether a complaint can be filed with the Police, what happens following such a complaint, the length of the legal proceedings and what one should expect; whether one is entitled to sue for compensation; and if there are any forms of protection for the victim.We also provide any other practical help that the individual may require, such as accompanying victims to the Police station or to Court. All our services are free of charge, and we value confidentiality, so we never divulge details about a person who approaches us for assistance. It is important to be aware of the ‘dangers’ of the internet to protect ourselves from any of these situations; however, if something negative does happen to us, it...
Bills you didn’t bank on

Bills you didn’t bank on

“My 8 year-old daughter ran up a bill of £4000” said a father from Bristol after allowing his daughter to use his tablet so that she could play numerous games such as My Horse, My little Pony, Hay Day, Zombies vs Ninja and Smurf’s village. The amount may seem extreme, yet many parents can relate to receiving a credit-card bill that includes unwanted and useless purchases that their children have, often unwittingly, made. In-App purchases themselves are not a bad thing, as long as they’re used responsibly and under the full control of parents. What are in-app purchases? Some games, usually initially free to install, have the option to purchase additional content such as game levels, game accessories, maps, experience points, subscriptions and additional stories. These extras are referred to as In-app purchases (IAPs).  How can I prevent unwanted in-app purchases? Try it yourself: When you are downloading a free game, first try to understand how in-app purchasing is used, and whether you are comfortable with it. Set a password: Android and IOS devices encourage you to enter a password prior to making any purchases on your device. Never tick the ‘Remember Me’ button, as this will override the need to enter a password before buying an app. Set a budget: Talk to your children about in-app purchases, and encourage them to take a responsible attitude towards them. This can also be done in the form an an iTunes or Google Play gift card. Fortunately, you can restrict In-App Purchases on Apple devices and on Android devices. Restrictions stop you from sing specific features and applications, automatically block access...