Safer Internet Day

Pupils from Tarporley High School report on their Twitter 'addiction'

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How often do you use a social networking site? Do you use one every day?

The UK Safer Internet Centre conducted a survey of 24,000 youngsters, which showed that practically all of them are using the web to communicate.

96% of the respondents, who fell into the 11-19-year-old category, said they use some form of online communication tool and they are becoming more defenceless against online dangers.

In simple terms, today's teenagers are becoming more vulnerable as they are losing control of the images and videos they are being exposed to. The School Report team at Tarporley High School focused heavily on the effects that sites like Twitter have on our generation.

However it is not only teens who are being targeted by online cyberbullies - there have been many cases where celebrities have been victimised and abused over Twitter.

One incident that stood out to us was the Tom Daley bullying scandal. On this occasion, Daley was abused during the Olympics over the tragic death of his father. When he came fourth in the Olympic men's synchronised 10m platform diving event, one individual sent some disparaging and deeply offensive tweets to him.

OUR TOP FIVE TIPS FOR STAYING SAFE ONLINE

  • If you see or receive any abuse online, make sure you report it straight away, even if it is not directed at you
  • Always keep your password to yourself
  • Never say or do anything you could regret later
  • Don't spend too long on social networking sites - it can interfere with your life outside of the internet
  • Never say something online to someone that you wouldn't say to their face

This is a prime example of how people can be abused through social media.

Consequently we think teenagers in particular should be protected and informed on how to stay safe over the Internet.

Our team talked to PC Karl Williamson, a police school liaison officer who works closely with the Safer Schools Partnership in Cheshire, who told us about some of the dangers posed by social media.

"It's important young people have confidence that the police will deal things sensitively," said PC Williamson, who recommended that people should look at the Thinkuknow and Childnet websites for more information.

Overall, it is essential for young people in our generation to be taught and made aware about the many dangers of social networking.

Our message to teens is that they have to take responsibility over what they post and share on the internet as, if deemed inappropriate, they could be faced with unwanted abuse.

Our experience working with BBC News School Report has helped us understand what happens when people are not educated about the dangers of the internet.

It has been very rewarding as we are now more aware of what threats social networking sites can contain.

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