Online Safety (part 2)

This post is the second in a series that I introduced in my previous post. In part 2 we will discuss two more complex issues: privacy and scams. Mistakes in either of these areas can lead to serious consequences so I would usually reserve these topics for older students – year 5 (10-11 yo) and 6 (11-12 yo). It is increasingly common, however, that younger students will be aware of problems that both of these issues have caused. “My uncle had money stolen from his bank account”, “my friend had his account hacked” – these are common school yard discussions nowadays.

On the surface privacy doesn’t seem like a major issue for students. They don’t have credit cards or know anything really confidential … do they? The trouble is that they do have access to private information and even something as innocuous as sharing names and birthdates can be misused. With the near universal availability of cameras and explosion of social networking sites and apps it is now easier than ever to accidentally reveal private information to an unintended audience.

I use the term ‘scams’ to cover a range of issues from fake websites, shonky competitions, phishing, identity theft and hacking attempts. This might not be technically accurate, but they all fall under the principle of recognising and guarding against online fakes.

Don’t fall for fake

This area of Interland requires the most reading and understanding of the underlying topics. A lot of the scenarios may not be familiar with year 5 and 6 students, but it is very relevant and important for them to understand the dangers before they encounter it.

Click this picture to go directly to Reality River
Phishers are very resourceful and are masters at faking

There are 10 scenarios to navigate across the river. Each time you play you may see different ones so it is worth doing a few times.

Use the arrows or mouse to look at each of the possible answers then press space to select one.
Who doesn’t love a good quiz, but some may have hidden agendas.
It would be a mistake to ignore this or not let someone know if you were the recipient.

This doesn’t necessarily mean that your email account has been hacked as there plenty of other ways this could have occurred. You have to really careful before clicking any links or opening attachments in email. This is how a lot of scams start not to mention computer viruses or trojans.

This scenario is so dangerous for kids. The allure of fun new game is very strong.

A lot of scammers/phishers know that kids can often be tricked into downloading a game that promises all sorts of fun and entertainment. If they can make the fake game just look great then that may be all they need to do to extract some personal information or worse download a virus onto the computer that searches for private information and sends it to them. Software called trojans or malware can stay undetected for months or years just waiting and logging your activity which may include your use of banking websites, entering your credit card details etc.

Those popup ads are annoying, but harmless … right?

We’ve all seen them – the ads that claim you’ve won an amazing prize and even adults get duped to clicking them sometimes. If you are on a reputable website then chances are the ad is just an annoyance and clicking on it will do no harm. The problem is that we can become so accustomed to them that we may be tempted to click on them when we are on websites that are not reputable, are fakes or that have been hacked. This is where we must be very careful as even visiting a malicious website can have negative consequences – hackers have become very good at finding weaknesses that they can exploit.

Detecting fake email and web addresses is an important skill today to avoid scams.

Even if an email comes from someone we know we must still use our intellect to sniff out potential scams. Just like one of the previous examples it is possible that a friend’s account is hacked so we must also consider the subject and content of the email before we assume it is legitimate. Any website links or attachments that look suspicious should raise a warning.

The 3 questions at the end are relatively easy if you’ve been paying attention.
The highest possible score is 360… so you should be able to beat this one with a few tries.

Share with care

The Mindful Mountain activity is probably the most challenging, but it starts easy. Publishing or sharing information is like a laser beam that is shot out into the internet. If we don’t aim it correctly then it can be accessed by people we did not intend and sometimes those with malicious intent. It may take just a matter of seconds for information to be captured and stored for later misuse.

Angle of incidence and reflection… I knew it would come in hand one day!
This is the central message – easier said than done though – especially with peer pressure.
The oversharer is usually not malicious, but cannot be trusted with anything private or sensitive.
For each level you have to only share with a select audience.
The beam reflects off the mirrors so you have to move into the correct starting position so that when you post it only travels through your intended audience.
This is where it gets hard.

Once you get to the challenge level you no longer move the starting position of the beam. You can only choose the right time to send it. The purple mirrors change positions. If you watch the patterns they will either have 2, 3, 4 or 5 possible positions.

Carefully count the different positions the mirrors can be in, then work out which pattern fits best. The order is always the same. I don’t think this is the right time to send – do you?

Once you are done there are the final 3 questions to see if you’ve learn the important lessons. I’m only including one here. This one should be pretty easy – definitely the cat videos!

Just kidding… it’s not the cat videos!
Ok, I made one teensy mistake… just so some of you guys could brag that you beat my score.

Once you finish all 4 worlds you can get yet another certificate of awesomeness and who doesn’t want one of those. You might notice a bug though with the score for Tower of Treasure – I had to fix this for my final screenshot:

Don’t look too close – I had to do some bug fixing 🙂


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