Ian O'Doherty

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Ian O'Doherty : Safer internet day – it comes but once a year

Ian O'Doherty

Published 11/02/2014 | 02:30

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George Clooney arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards, the actor's look-a-likes often frequent the internet dating sites
George Clooney arrives at the 84th Annual Academy Awards, the actor's look-a-likes often frequent the internet dating sites

Got the bunting ready? Have you put aside some valuable parenting time to have a long and serious chat with your delightful offspring about how best to utilise d'internet without them falling foul of – deep breath – paedophiles /predators/bullies/ pro-anorexia/pro-suicide and pro-binge drinking sites?

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Have you alerted them to the dangers of neo-Nazi and other racist material? Have you warned them to stay away from fundamentalist Muslim terrorist websites that are chock-full of lovely, moving home videos of our fanatic friends slowly cutting someone's head off, or eating their organs?

What, you mean you didn't know that your kid is only a click away from a vast reservoir of snuff movies, where people take some weird, almost sexual pleasure from watching someone being slowly decapitated?

You didn't know that your child could, while you think they're doing some last-minute revision for their mocks, actually be spending those hours of supposed study time poring over images of murders? Or maybe they're just looking at weird, unpleasant sexual content that is nearly as disturbing as watching Abdullah being separated from his head with a rusty bread knife?

Well, here's the thing – you should know what they're watching. But if you don't, Safer Internet Day is designed to make parents who aren't paying sufficient attention to what lurks in their kid's history folder feel that bit better about themselves.

Inevitably, the idea has been hailed as a brilliant step forward in the battle to encourage kids to be more careful about stuff they access online. But here's the bad news – your kid knows their way around a computer far better than you do.

That's why the old joke from Outnumbered about the parents having to get their teenage son to install the internal parental controls struck such a chord. Nobody under the age of 30 sees the online world as some strange and frightening thing – they see it as the most natural tool imaginable that also just happens to offer access to some strange and frightening things.

To celebrate this most auspicious of days, here is a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to educating your child about their own personal, virtual safety.

Actually, you know what? Screw the kids – they know too much already. It's the adults who need education, so here are just a few hints for internet safety for anybody, regardless of age.

That cousin who is travelling through South America and who has just been mugged? Jesus, they emailed you, of all people, so you are the only family they trust, even if you don't actually recognise their name. What are you, a monster? Bung them a few quid on the credit card ...

All emails from Nigeria are fake. But the ones from Sierra Leone tend to be real. If you get a chance to help out a former member of their Royal family who wants to use your account to rest their money for a while, you have only yourself to blame if you pass up this gilt-edged opportunity to make $3m. Give them your account details immediately or forever rue the missed opportunity ...

Only the coolest, sexiest people use internet dating sites. So, when you click on someone's profile and they look remarkably like George Clooney, that is just a very happy coincidence and you should get in touch with them immediately. Unless the person is meant to be a chick, in which case looking like George Clooney is just a bit weird ...

This one is only for the women – due to the proliferation of people pretending to be George Clooney, it is imperative that the person you are speaking to knows you are who you say you are. And the etiquette states that you must take a webcam picture while wearing very little indeed. This may seem odd and kind of pervy. But how else can someone know you are who you say you are? After all, there are a lot of weirdos out there. Do you want to be one of them?

You can thank me through the usual internet way – naked selfies, counterfeit Bitcoins and hack codes for American websites.

But mostly naked selfies ...

FIRST THEY CAME FOR THE BABY GIRAFFES

So, after a last-minute flurry of condemnation, Copenhagen zoo decided to kill a perfectly healthy baby giraffe, because they were worried that it might have sex with a female giraffe relative and they didn't want to contribute to inbreeding (insert gratuitous joke about rural people here).

In creepy echoes of Knut, the juvenile polar bear who met the same fate a while back, zoo keepers have defended the killing, and they also defended themselves after killing it and dissecting the animal and then feeding it to the lions – all in front of some children.

They said: "This is what happens in nature."

Funny, I don't recall any nature programmes that feature a vet with a bolt gun stalking a giraffe in its enclosure before killing it and feeding it to some other captive creatures.

I must have missed that episode of Attenborough.

OKAY PEOPLE – FOR THE LAST TIME!

This column started with interwebby stuff, so we might as well finish with interwebby stuff.

The current fundraising ad for pancreatic cancer features a sufferer saying: "I wish I had breast cancer."

It's meant to highlight the disparity in funding between different cancer charities, and if controversy was the goal then mission accomplished.

But the woman in the ad, Kelly Harvey, has now admitted that some people were so annoyed at the divisive nature of the campaign that they have sent her death threats.

"So, how was your day, dear?"

"Ah it was grand; I went into work, did a bit of work and then spent the afternoon sending death threats to a terminally ill woman because I felt she was being insensitive."

Well done. You must be proud ...

Irish Independent

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