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Internet security: Education begins at home, says expert


Carsten Maple, who is a director of the National Centre for Cyberstalking Research at the university, has been at Parliament recently to discuss adolescent safety on the web.
And the Professor in Computer Science and Technology believes that while education is vital for youngsters, parents also need to keep informed.
Speaking on Internet Safety Day earlier this week, Professor Maple (pictured) said: “Parents and a lot of adults also struggle to assess risk and only through education can this issue be tackled.”
To solve the problem of online security requires a combination of different approaches: legislation, regulation, technology and education – with education being a key approach, he added.
“We need to provide parents with the skills and knowledge to make informed decisions,” said Professor Maple.
“Education in schools is arguably the most vital component in any proposal to address the problem. The school IT curriculum is changing and this, I would hope will bring an opportunity to ensure effective child education.
“While it is recognised that children are becoming adept internet and technology users, we should not confuse their ability with internet technologies with their ability to assess risk. Therein lays the problem.
“Children are unaware of what actions and comments are acceptable online. They don’t know what is legal and they don’t know how to address each other online,” he added.
“Due to children’s under-developed sense of ‘netiquette’ we have seen many instances of cyberbullying ranging from unintentional but harmful teasing to the horrific bullying that has had fatal consequences."
Some children have been generating images of themselves, and be unaware that this may breach the Sexual Offences Act 2003, as well as those that distribute such material, he warned.
Children can accidentally download malware with sexual or violent content as they download from illegal streaming sites, and Professor Maple adds that children must be made more aware of the risks when downloading from some sites.