Harry Potter and the Lesson in Online Safety

November 20, 2012 at 7:27 pm (internet, kids, security) (, , , )

In these days of children being online earlier and earlier, there is an increasing worry about online stranger danger and sites like Get Safe Online and organisations such as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) and excellent resources like the ICO Youth website and Own Your Space spend quite a lot of time and effort attempting to educate the general public, and young people in particular about the issues associated with increased use of the Internet.

Well, it struck me today that there is already a very illustrative lesson of the dangers of using a mediated text-based communications environment where you easily build up trust but don’t really know who is on the other end – chapter seventeen of ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’.

When Harry is asking Tom Riddle how come he is standing ghost-like over the barely alive body of Ginny Weasley, he asks ‘How did Ginny get like this?’

‘ … I suppose the real reason Ginny Weasley’s like this is because she opened her heart and spilled all her secrets to an invisible stranger.’

‘My Diary.  Little Ginny’s been writing in it for months and months, telling me all her pitiful worries and woes …’

‘It’s very boring, having to listen to the silly little troubles of an eleven-year-old girl … but I was patient.  I wrote back, I was sympathetic, I was kind.  Ginny simply loved me.  No one’s ever understood me like you Tom … I’m so glad I’ve got this diary to confide in … it’s like having a friend I can carry round in my pocket …’

So what is the muggle equivalent of a ‘friend you can carry round in your pocket’?  Well, a collection of connected friends in your phone’s contact list of course.

So be careful who your friends are – who recieves your words as you write them on the page and they disappear like magic.  The illusion of trust is easy to come by on the Internet.  Just never confuse it with the real thing.  It could lead to the take over of your mind by the world’s most feared wizard …

So remember the wise words of Arthur Weasley … “Haven’t I taught you anything? What have I always told you? Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps it’s brain?”

Kevin.

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Get Safe Online week coming up …

November 12, 2010 at 5:32 pm (computers, internet, security) (, , , , )

Apparently it is going to be ‘Get Safe Online week’ next week.

Well, I’ve recently heard that something like three quarters of all cyber crime incidents – phishing, malware, ID theft, credit card scams, possibly even dodgy phone calls, and so on – could probably be stopped if people followed some basic ‘cyber hygiene’ rules such as can be found on sites like Get Safe Online – www.getsafeonline.org.

So, in the interests of doing my bit, I would strongly recommend having a browse through the site.  In fact, why not get ahead of the crowds and do it today!

Another good place to go for general information, especially about safe and sensible use of online social networks, is the Information Commissioner’s Office – see http://www.ico.gov.uk/youth.aspx.

Couple more resources to consider – Own Your Space – a free e-book download, and Facebook have a security page with useful info.

Kevin.

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