10 tips for keeping teens safe online during schoolies
Safe to say that Schoolies 2020 won’t be the same as in previous years.
Covid19 restrictions have seen the cancellation of many events around the country which understandably is upsetting for the kids. As a community, we all need to support those who have worked so hard through a very challenging year as they deserve to celebrate.
Kids will be kids and they will find a way to celebrate whether it be via approved Schoolies events or not. Covid or no Covid.
Navigating Schoolies with kids determined to celebrate, have a great time, stay safe and manage alcohol, sex and drugs are hard enough. The additional complexities of the online world must be included in our safety message.
With that in mind, here are some tips from Jacqueline Jayne, Security Awareness Advocate APAC at KnowBe4, for the kids staying safe online during Schoolies.
Refunds or Payments
If you have already paid money toward your Schoolies event via official channels, be aware that cybercriminals may take advantage of events being cancelled and attempt to steal your money. Make sure that you only ever communicate via an official website such as schoolies.com
This one is easy – don’t use free wi-fi as it is 99% unsecured. If you must use it, please make sure you use a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which will keep your data and online activity safe from prying eyes.
Be extra vigilant when it comes to invitations to events or friend requests. Sadly, there are some opportunistic people who prey on kids and they will go to great lengths to create fake events or fake profiles using Schoolies as the lure.
There will be an increase of social media posts and activity during this time. Think before your comment, like or share on anything. Also, think twice before ‘checking in’ at a location.
Look out for Trolls online. These are people who deliberately make a provocative statement or comment designed to make people respond. Ignore the trolls – they will go away if no one plays their little games.
Update your privacy settings on all your social media apps so that the only people who can see your posts are your Friends!
Update all your passwords and make sure that you don’t re-use any passwords or login details. And don’t share your passwords with anyone!
If you are sending, posting or sharing harmful, negative, mean or false information about someone, you are being a cyber bully. This can be via text, SMS, Instant Messenger, email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tik-Tok etc.
Being a bully online is easier than being a bully to someone’s face and the statistics are terrifying with one in five young people have been bullied online.
If you do see any cyberbullying online, don’t participate, take a screenshot as it might be needed as evidence.
Apps such as Tinder are often used at Schoolies events. There are people who will create fake profiles and misrepresent themselves in attempt to take advantage of kids. Remember that you need to be over 18 to use Tinder and there are no doubt people under 18 will set up profiles. This is very risky as you do not know who you are really talking to. My advice? Stay away from Tinder and apps like it. The opportunity is too alluring for predatory individuals so avoid putting yourself in harm’s way.
During this time, cybercriminals will craft some clever emails enticing you to click on a link, open an attachment or getting you to hand over personal information. Be aware of the subjects of these emails and instructions to take action such as ‘Limited Tickets for Schoolies – buy yours now’ or ‘Cheap rental for Schoolies party – book now’ or ‘Click here to access the VIP Lounge’ or ‘Off the Grid Party – book now’.
When it comes to mobile phones, there are added dangers when it comes to staying safe online. The ability of ‘proximity enabling’ with some apps have the potential for predators to pretend to be someone they are not and take advantage of someone’s innocence while celebrating. Be extra careful when communicating with someone online who you have never met and make sure your friends know where you are always. Check in on one another or stay in groups.
Sending, sharing or asking for sexually explicit images, messages or videos from someone could be treated as a criminal offence if it involves someone under 18.
Sending a sext to someone who did not ask for it is illegal and if you are under 18 and send sexts you could be charged with producing or disseminating child pornography and put on a Sex Offender Register.
If you do receive an unwanted sext message:
- Don’t forward it or share it or upload it
- Don’t delete it either as you might need to show it to your Parents, Caregivers or Police
Smile – You’re on Candid Camera
Everyone has a mobile device these days and there is a good chance you will be filmed (without your knowledge). Keep this in mind as these photos and videos have been used in relation to charging people as a result of their behaviour.
Think before your share. It’s human nature to want to take selfies and photos to capture the moments of Schoolies. Just remember that once you share a photo online IT IS THERE FOREVER and pay attention to what’s happening with those around you. No one has the right to take a compromising photo of someone else and post it without their consent. Don’t share embarrassing photos of your friends or anyone for that matter.
Resources for Schoolies and their Parents and Caregivers
Download the Emergency Plus app
From the app store:
“In an emergency, time and location accuracy are critical. By downloading the ‘Emergency +’ app, you’ll equip yourself with a powerful tool that will help you call Triple Zero (000) quickly, and allow you to accurately communicate your location to emergency call-takers.
‘Emergency +’ is a national app developed by Australia’s emergency services and their government industry partners, helping people to call the right number at the right time, anywhere in Australia. Emergency + also includes SES and Police Assistance Line numbers as options, so non-emergency calls are made to the most appropriate number.”
Useful information to help you stay safe online.
Report Cyberbullying, image-based abuse or Illegal and harmful content