Must be true, saw it on the Internet

I’ve just been into town and come back to have my son say “Did you know there is someone stabbed in London every 52 seconds?”. I say don’t be ridiculous and he says it must be true it said so on the Internet.

What followed was an impromtu maths lesson to prove to him that not everything that it says online is true. If my maths worked out that would mean there was 1661 people with knife wounds in London everyday and a search on Google would surely be able to back that up.

To me this was a reminder to have yet another discussion about how things might not necessarily be what they seem on the Internet. I needed to point out that the 10 year old boy he talks to on MSN Messenger might actually be a 38 year old.

A network diagram

This sounds like I don’t usually discuss these issues with my children, but I am very internet savvy and often have to help other parents that are concerned about what their children are getting up to, but still my son doesn’t seem to understand that all is not always as it seems.

I took the parents test on https://www.ceop.police.uk/parentsquiz2009/index.html and got a credible 57%, two of the answers I got wrong were acceptable mistakes but one made for scary reading. One was about how many children took an adult with them when meeting an online friend for the first time, you would hope that if your child was meeting someone they’d only spoken to in a virtual world they’d tell you about it first right!!! Only 8%.

I want to share a story of something that happened, one child was getting phone calls from men on the landline number and one night men had turned up at the door. Although the girl had told her parents she had no idea how this was happening her parents was very concerned about

a) How the men were getting the phone number in the first place.

b) Why their daughter was being targeted and how they knew that she would be only the night they turned up at the door.

It turned out the child had used the landline number as their username on YouTube and had also put up a video inviting friends round as her parents were out for the night.

Please talk to your children about what goes on online, the CEOPS site is a great place to start.