Online Safety Reminders
Recent wellbeing figures at the College have seen a slight increase in students making poor decisions in terms of their online interactions. At this week’s College Assembly I spoke about ‘catfishing.’ This theme was unpacked further by Heads of House at Friday’s House Assemblies.
Catfishing is when someone uses social media to create a false identity, usually as a joke or to scam someone else. Often people who catfish make up fake backgrounds, jobs or friends, so that they appear as someone else. Using this fake identity, they may even trick a person into believing they are in an online romance, before using this to ask for money or gifts or intimate information.
There are some clear flags that may suggest catfishing:
- The user does not seem to use their social media accounts much.
- The way they chat or act does not seem to match their profile.
- They seem to know a lot about you and are interested in all the same things as you.
- They want you to send photos or live videos of yourself, but always have excuses about why they can’t send you any images of them – like saying that their webcam is not working – so you can’t check what they really look like.
If it sounds too good to be true, chances are you’re probably right. Students should always be ‘on their guard’ if someone randomly makes contact out of the blue. If their story isn’t adding up, you are right to be suspicious of them.
It does not hurt to do some online investigating. If you’re feeling unsure about the person you’re talking to, you can always do your own online research. You can verify their picture using a Google reverse image search. If the photo is connected to lots of different names or is literally the picture of an actor or celebrity, this is a serious red flag. You can also check them out on other social media sites.
They may be a catfish if they:
- Have a very low friend count.
- Have barely posted anything.
- Are not tagged in photos.
Check your privacy settings. Make sure you are comfortable with the amount of personal information you put online, in general. If you’re not sure what’s out there, you can read our article about how to manage your digital footprint. The eSafety Guide has information about how to do this on different online platforms.
The best advice I always give, is to screenshot, report to your Mentor or Head of House, and block on the platform. The eSafety Guide has information about how to do this on different online platforms. Confidentially reporting fake accounts can help keep the platform safe for others, and you can do this before blocking them.
‘Sextortion’ has been an issue for over a decade, with many adults falling victim to this type of online crime. It is a form of blackmail where someone threatens to share intimate images of you, unless you give in to their demands. Organised criminal gangs across Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa connect to their victims via social media, chat apps, instant messaging platforms and online games. More recently though, there has been a higher rate of adolescent males falling victim.
Since the beginning of 2022, there has been a 400% increase in this type of crime being reported to police in Australia alone. However, these figures are being replicated in most western countries. Having an understanding of how your young person can fall victim to such an offender may help to protect them from engaging or conceding to their demands.
It is vitally important for parents and carers to be aware of this serious issue, and to start having an age-appropriate conversation as early as possible. Be aware that even with an online account set to ‘private’, random people can still message your child. Emphasise to your young person the importance of only engaging online with people they actually know, not someone they think they might know.
Most importantly, keep the lines of communication open between you and your son. Young people who fall victim to these offenders will feel distressed and blame themselves. Let them know, that no matter what, they can come to you and ask for help, and that there is nothing so bad that they cannot come to you.
Managing devices can be difficult, especially with older teens, but it is important to weigh up the risks and the dangers. Sadly, even good kids who never make a poor decision elsewhere in their life, can and do make poor choices online. The information presented in this report is intended to alert, and not alarm, parents and carers of this potential issue.
Further information and resources relating to this topic can be accessed via the following websites:
Students and the College will continue to engage in online safety content in their Mentor groups, College Assemblies, House Assemblies, PDHPE lessons and ySafe incursions scheduled during the second part of the year.
Latest COVID-19 Numbers
We have had 5 new cases in the last 24 hours including:
- 2 in Year 10
- 2 in Year 7
- 1 in Year 9
Current / Active Cases
|Year 5||3 cases|
|Year 6||3 cases|
|Year 7||6 cases|
|Year 8||3 cases|
|Year 9||4 cases|
|Year 10||5 cases|
|Year 11||1 case|
|Year 12||1 case|
Mr Patrick Brennan
Deputy Principal – Student & Staff Wellbeing