Your computer
Children and computing
Computer back up
And finally


Most important
Do some homework
The basics
Software protection
Search engines
Family agreement
If things go wrong
Chatroom language


Personal information
Who is a stranger
Other stuff
Really important




Your computer

Many households now have their own computer. They are almost becoming as common as having a washing machine. But where the washing doesn't have to have continual maintenance, in some area's a computer does. This is in the area of security. Unlike a washing machine unsavoury characters can take over your computer from afar and do some extrodinary things. This can happen even if you do not ever go "on line". Things can just get worse if you can surf the web. If you bring home a file from work on a disk, memory stick or CD, they can be infected. As soon as you try to open that file on your unprotected home computer, thats it, it will become infected. If your child comes home with some homework from school that they have partially completed on a friends computer. As soon as you try to open that file on your unprotected home computer, thats it, it will become infected. In both of these examples you will not know that you computer has become infected until things start to go wrong and that may not be immediately. It could be days, weeks or even months and then your computer may become slow, files may not open or the computer may cease to operate altogther.


You have bought that new computer. Everybody is raving about surfing the web, so you sign that contract for broadband access. You have sent e mails to all your friends giving them your new e mail address. You then start to buy items online from all those well known high street names, you become more adventurous and start to trade on eBay. You go onto chatline rooms, noticeboards and even do some online training. Then one day whilst walking in the High Street one of your closest friends snubs you ? Days latter when they are willing to talk to you again, they accuse you of sending them an offensive e mail. Then another friend accuses you of sending them an offensive e mail, then another, then another.


Now that you have had a computer for a few months or years you probably come across the term "Cookie". Virtually every website that you visit will leave a small piece of software on your computer. The original purpose of this software was to help you have a better visit to the same website in the future ( or so they say ). It also enables the website owner to keep tabs on people who return visit to their website. Since their original conception there use has become more sinister. Some of these "Cookies" can monitor how you use your computer. This can be what other sites you visit, what usernames you use and what passwords you use. These cookies are called Spys. So if you do online banking these pieces of software find out your sort code, bank account number, secret number / name and any other security device that your bank has put in place.


If you are renting access to Broadband you have probably received a Broadband Router / Firewall. This device maybe wired only or Wireless. If it is wired you should not suffer from the next problem. Squating ! If you have a wireless system; one of your neighbours or someone sitting in a car outside your house for that matter can access your broadband and use your system that you have paid for. So when you set up your wireless system ensure that you follow all the security instructions. This typically means that your computer automatically sends a password to your wireless router. Without that password the router will not accept instructions, so no squating.

As for the Firewall that is built into these wired or wireless routers. They are designed to make your computer invisible to the Worldwide Web, but they are not infalible. There are two main companies that supply software to prevent the calamities mentioned. These are McAfee and Symantec. If you choose to purchase one of there products ensure that it provides an Anti-Virus, Firewall and Anti-Spyware facility. A single computer package providing these facilities typically costs around £50.

Some Broadband suppliers ( for example BT ) supply security software with some of their rental packages. So check your contracts and welcome packs to see if your supplier can save you money. Once you have protected your computer, keep it that way. The two companies previously mentioned provide weekly updates to their software as part of a subscription that comes with the original purchase price.


Children and computing

When we were bringing our children up we used to tell them "don't speak to strangers", don't take anything off of strangers" and "mind how you cross the road". Now when we think that our children are safely in their bedroom doing homework or listening to music. That may not be the case.

Just by going onto a internet search engine such as "Google" and entering a innocent phrase you can end up with no end of surprising if not smutty information appearing before your eye, let alone your childrens. Many of these problems can be prevented by using the Parental control facilites of the security software previously mentioned.

There have been many articles recently about how peadophiles have groomed young children to do certain things. The security software cannot deal with these problems other than bar access to certain sites. The only problem is that these "people" move on to another internet location and carry on. As parents the only safest thing to do ( without barring access to the computer altogether ) is move the computer into your lounge or dining room so you can visually monitor what is going on, but there sometimes alternatives.

Check out the websites quoted in the Safer Surfing section of the LINKS page. The websites quoted are either operated or recommended by government department or childrens charities. 


You may or may not have heard of this unusual word. This is where an unscruplous individual or group has sent out thousands of e mails to innocent people. The recipients are asked to go to their banks website and check their accounts for problems. This kind e mail provides an easy link to the banks website for the customers convenience ( a bogus / fraudulent website ). This false website mirrors the real banks website and asks for passwords, account number and secret information and then passes your information onto the crooks. The crooks in turn access your account and remove your money. So be wary about any e mails you receive that ask for your personal banking details. If in doubt contact your bank direct using the contact details you are familiar with.

Computer back-up

One of the last things that people do on their computers or laptops is the back up. There are two types. One involves creating a recovery disk/s of the computers operating system (typically Windows ) and the other is backing up your personal data. Creating recovery disks will help you or your computer engineer bring your machine back from the point of oblivion. The "oblivion" may have been caused by a computer component failure, software coruption, virus infection or a combination of all three. Computers are complicated things !

Storing you personal data on the other hand may stop you from loosing forever "that important work document", those priceless wedding photographs, those pictures of your childs first steps ! The cost of backing up is normally just your time and a couple of CD / DVD disks.

. . . . . AND FINALLY

When your computer comes to the end of its useful life ( Microsoft has released Windows 3000 ) or it has just stopped working; you will probably go out and purchase another one. Never take the computer to the recycling site etc without first carrying out the following.

First of all do you want the data that is held on the hard drive ? If you do, back up those files to a CD, DVD or a USB flash drive. Then carry out the following :

If you are now in the position of not wanting the files on the hard drive, delete it. Deleting files from a hard drive using the facilities in Windows Explorer in fact does not delete the file at all. It just changes it's name to something that Windows understands can be overwritten, but the file information can be easily recovered. To completely remove a file use proprietry file deletion software.

If your computer has ceased to operate, have the hard drive removed from the computer and keep in a secure place until you can safely dispose of it.

Remember even the smallest piece of personal information held in a file on a old hard drive can be retrieved and used to hijack your identity.





Do some homework

The following organisations provide information to help prevent problems :

If you find illegal material on the internet contact the Internet Watch Foundation at :

If your child feels threatened by something seen or received on the internet or mobile phone, check out the CEOP website :

Find general advice and more links on the Home Office sponsored website :

The basics

Within the "SAFER SURFING - KIDS" section several important points are raised which included personal information that should not be disclosed on the internet and the importance of speaking to parents or carers in the event of problems occurring.

Discuss with your child the items and issues mentioned in the SAFER SURFING - KIDS section. Get them to educate you on what can be done on the internet and ask them about what they have found and done. It's not just full of reality TV websites, slang and music !

Many of the specialist "Safer Surfing" websites ( see Safer Surfing in "Links" page ) encourage parents and their children to agree on a list of computing usage rules that can be printed out and placed by the computer as an ongoing reminder. In my view and personal experience it may be best to introduce and to think of these "rules" as an agreement. Warring factions come to agreements that they can both work with (ie. trade unions and employers ! ).
The use of the computer for accessing the outside world has now become part of modern culture and its need for continual communication. The "Internet experts" are describing the current usage trend as "Web2". Until quite recently internet users virtually all depended on large organisations (Universities, companies etc ) to supply web information. With the advent of "Myspace" and "Youtube" that has all changed, everyone can make a contribution.

Cutting your child off from this "tool" will only cause an argument and excessively strict control will only encourage revolt. They will just use any bad practice elsewhere.

Being involved in producing the agreement will help them understand the dangers and give them a sense of responsibility, which they are likely to take with them when they surf at school or at friends' houses. After all, if your children are old enough to use the internet, they are old enough to be involved in creating an agreement.

A chat resulting in an agreement costs nothing and is probably the most effective way of protecting your child both at home and away. Remember it is not your childs fault that there is offensive material and people out there on the internet.

An example of an Internet Usage Agreement is shown at the foot of this page. Remember this is only an example. Your family is unique and needs an agreement that satisfies its specific requirements.

Software Protection

Ensure that you have anti-virus and firewall software loaded and that it is kept up to date on your family computer/s. The internet security packages that include these types of software also normally include a parental control facility. These facilities typically include keyword filtering which "looks" for unacceptable words and then blocks the website. The software also normally updates details of unacceptable websites and will again blocks those.

These filters are no substitute for parental guidance, as innocent words can be used to draw young people into "dangerous" internet sites. For example, "look at website xxxx and get a free MP3 player". Tempting, but no obscene words there !

Always be aware that anti-virus, firewall and parental control software will not stop malicious conversations from occurring on chatrooms and instant messenger services. You can just turn them off altogether. Remember also that when you refuse to accept to chat to someone due to a suspicion, an incident or something they said, that someone can easily change their nickname / username / handle and carry on causing offence and worse.

Remember tools are provided to restrict access to unsuitable material on the internet. This does not replace parental responsibility. The tools act as an aid ( the wearing of a safety belt in a car, will not prevent the accident from occurring in the first place ).

Search Engines

The internet has some great things to offer, from booking your next holiday to a source of information to help with homework. Sadly the internet also contains some tasteless material ( this is putting it mildly ) which can be found by entering the most innocent of phrases into a search engine (ie. Google, Ask etc ). These companies obviously do realise that there is a problem and offer a filter in their settings options.

Family agreement

The Department of Education and Work produced an example computer usage agreement that can be used between a Parent, Guardian or Carer and a child to cover computer usage. The idea is to reduce the likelihood of "heated" discussions caused by inappropriate use of the computer.

Note: The source of the example has since changed on the website and no longer seems available.

Acceptable use agreement

  • no-one is allowed to go to pornographic, racist or any hate-motivated websites - if your child accidentally stumbles upon any they should tell you and you can then delete it from the 'history' folder.
  • it's never OK to use abusive or threatening language in chat or any other online communication
  • no one should visit the private areas of chat rooms -only visit moderated chat rooms 
  • never be online for more than 20 minutes at a time (this can be extended according to age)
  • your child shouldn't download unknown files from the internet without you agreeing - the best bet is to never download unknown files at all.
  • no one is allowed to download, burn to CD and pass on any music, images or movies downloaded from the internet
  • your child should only use child-friendly search engines like  Yahooligans  or  Ask Jeeves Kids


  • keep all personal information secret - this includes name, age, gender , home address, landline and mobile numbers, bank details, PIN numbers, passwords and user names. If it is necessary to supply details for registration, or to buy something, your child should always ask for permission and help from a Parent or Carer.
  • remember, an online friend is a stranger in the real world so your child should never arrange to meet someone they have met via the internet without your knowledge and permission. You will go with your child if they do arrange to meet an online friend
  • your child should not give any indication of their Age or GENDER in a personal email address
  • no one should visit private areas of chat rooms - all chat rooms visited should be moderated and child friendly
  • no one should respond, reply or unsubscribe to unwanted email or spam 
  • if your child receives frightening or bullying emails, or any spam with unacceptable content, they should tell you - it is not their fault that they have received them.
  •  you should install and regularly update Anti-Virus, Firewall and filtering software to protect against inappropriate internet access

If things go wrong

  • your child should always tell you (Parent, Guardian or Carer ) if anything worries or upsets them.
  • you should contact your Internet System Provider (ISP) to find out about any child-safety measures they offer and complain to them if your child stumbles upon any inappropriate content or is subjected to any inappropriate contact while online
  •  in case of illegal materials, contact the  Internet Watch Foundation


Chatroom language

WARNING : The following wording may not be directly upsetting, but the ramifications and connotations could be.

The following contains extracts from an article titled "The chatroom language that spells danger for your child" from the Daily Mail of Wednesday, February 7th, 2007. Reporter : Laura Clark

The aim of the article was to make parents aware of the secret language that their children may be using within web based chatrooms. Paedophiles have been known to deploy the same shorthand language to try to groom unsuspecting children and teenagers.

The list of phrases was compiled by anti-grooming software company "In Loco Parentis". A company spokeman stated that the phrases mentioned were only an example and that there cannot be a definitive list as situations change and there are many variations.

The software is meant to monitor the computer on which it is loaded. If the software "sees" an illegal phrase from its banned list it either shuts down the computer or e-mails the parent of carer.


A/S/L = Age, Sex, Location

BF / GF = Boyfriend, Girlfriend

BRB = Be Right Back

CD9 = Code 9 ( means parents are around )

GNOC = Get Naked On Cam ( Webcam )

G2G = Got to Go

IDK = I Don't Know

LMIRL = Lets Meet In Real Life

LOL = Laugh out Loud

Morf = Male or Female

MOS = Mum Over Shoulder

NIFOC= Naked In Front Of Computer

Noob = When someone can not use a computer very well

NMU = Not Much, You?

P911 = Parents Emergency

PAW = Parents Are Watching

PIR = Parents In Room

POS = Parents Over Shoulder

PRON = Porn

PRW = Parents aRe Watching

S2R = Send to Receive ( this relates to pictures )

TDTM = Talk Dirty To Me

TYK = Take Your Knickers Off

W/E = Whatever

Warez = Pirated software.



The content of this section is constantly being researched, but much of the information will be commonsense. Sadly the lists quoted are not definitive, technology is changing from day to day and new websites come online with almost the same frequency.  

Have a look at the SAFE website. It covers so many area's that you may need to deal with.

Personal information

If you want to sign-up for a free service on the internet ( such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, Utube, Bebo, Hotmail ) ask your Parent, Guardian or Carer if it is okay to give your personal details.

  • Never give your name to a stranger on the internet.
  • Never give an e mail addresses with your real name in it. 
  • Never give your age to a stranger on the internet.
  • Never give your home address to a stranger on the internet.
  • Never give your home telephone number or your mobile phone number to a stranger on the internet. 
  • Never give the name of your school, its address or even a teachers name to a stranger on the internet.
  • Never place a picture of yourself on the internet that shows a school badge or emblem. This is almost like giving your schools address.
  • Never place details ( actual name, home address, school, or telephone) of any friends or acquaintances on the internet.

When you complete an application to register for access to a website you do actually give some of this information. This information then becomes your profile that others ( strangers ) can read. Why not consider a false name (alias) / online nickname and details.

Who is a stranger ?

They are anybody who is :

  • Not a family member, guardian or carer. 
  • Not a teacher at your school.
  • Not a pupil in your class or school year
  • Not a next door neighbour well known by your parents.
  • This maybe boring, but anybody that your Parents, Guardian or Carer say you should avoid.
  • Anybody that you have known for minutes, hours, days or months on the internet. They can just make up a name and say anything to convince you to be their friend. 


Other stuff

Sometimes you may receive e mails from someone whose name name you do not recognise. They may offer free MP3 players, trips to Disneyland in fact anything to entice you to open their e mail. The majority of these e mails tell lies or worse contain a computer virus. So just delete these e mails, do not reply to them. If it was anything important the sender will try and contact you another way. It is not just young people who have problems with these types of e mail, adults do to.

Try and involve your Parents, Guardian or Carer in what you are doing on the internet. The will probably be really surprised and impressed with what you know ( probably more than they do ! ).

If you use social networking sites make sure that you follow their advice on security and who can see your personal information.

To help you , your Parent, Guardian or Carer find out more information on this subject; the section "Safer Surfing" section in Links  has details of some specialist websites.

Lastly, your Parent, Guardian or Carer may know less about computing than you do. Why not teach them what you know, but have patience and take your time, they are old you know !


Really Important

If someone sends you a message that upsets you, tell your Parents, Guardian or Carer.
If someone upsets you on a instant messenging site, tell your Parents, Guardian or Carer.
If you see something on a website that upsets you; or you do not understand, tell your Parents, Guardian or Carer.
If anybody says or does something that upsets you tell your Parents, Guardian or Carer.
Never keep secrets.

If you feel too embarrassed or frightened to tell you Parents Guardian or Carer then contact Childline. They are there to help you. Call 0800 1111





All of the information on this website has been provided in good faith. In no way can we guarantee that you will remove or reduce the liklihood of a problem occurring in the future.

This website does not endorse any software company or their products mentioned on this page. Their websites are provided for information only.