Instant messaging: this allows users to 'talk' to each other online (like having a telephone conversation via text rather than talking). There are various formats used by different software companies but they all do the same thing. MSN (Microsoft Networking) is the instant messaging system used by Microsoft, AIM stands for 'AOL instant messaging', while Meebo connects them all. Social network sites like Facebook also offer 'live chatting' between 'friends' who happen to be online at the same time.
Social networking site: for example, Facebook, Bebo, MySpace. Users create their own page or profile - including details like a photograph, likes and dislikes. Communicating with other members is done on a 'friends' basis. So your child can ask another member, or be asked, to become a 'friend' in their network. Once accepted, friends will automatically be able to communicate with each other and see each other's profile or page. Messages can be posted on 'a wall' - which is public viewing among all friends - or sent privately. Users can also upload photos and videos for others to see.
Applications: An application is an internet ‘enhancement’ that users can upload onto their profile for others to look at. So it could be a quiz ('which soap character are you most like?') or simply a 'where I've been' slot.
Online chat room: a virtual 'meeting place' where users can 'chat' to each other instantly. Conversations are open and public and anyone can join in - but users can opt for private chats.
Forum: A platform or noticeboard where people can post messages - often in response to a topic or subject. The chat isn't live ie happening there and then - and is usually overseen by a moderator.
What are they really saying?
Online abbreviations parents need to be aware of:
- POS: Parent on Shoulder
- PITH: Parent In The House
- PAW: Parents Are watching
- LOL: Laugh Out Loud
- BRB: Be Right Back
- NOOB: new to the language
- BEG: Big Evil Grin
- AFK: Away from the Keyboard
- A/S/L: this means 'age, sex, location' and is often used by paedophiles or groomers (adults posing as children to strike up sexual relationships). Alarm bells should ring if you see this posted on your child's pages.
Further help and advice
- Family Lives: You can talk to one of our Family Support Workers through Live Chat, or email us or call our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. Please do not feel isolated with this as we are here for you.
- As well as a wide range of articles on bullying issues on our Bullying UK, our forums offer the opportunity to speak to other parents.
- Respectme - Scotland's antibullying service: www.respectme.org.uk
- Bully Free Zone, charity offering a 16 page booket: Cyberbullying: Don't Let it Be Your Monster by emailing email@example.com and 01204 454958 or downloading directly from www.bullyfreezone.co.uk
- Childnet International - a non-profit organisation to "help make the Internet a great and safe place for children" - www.childnet-int.org
- Net Respect specialises in 'child internet safety training'. You can download information on keeping children safe on-line and also download the KIT (Kids Internet Speak) booklet which translates kids techno talk and terms: www.netrespect.co.uk
- thinkuknow.co.uk - an education initiative by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre. Click on the parents section for a whole wealth of information. You can register to receive monthly updates providing you with the latest information on internet safety and keeping your children safe online. You can also take an on-line quiz which will reveal how internet savvy (or not!) you are.
- GetNetWise - a project of the Internet Education Foundation, offers an 'on-line safety guide' as well as 'tools for parents' section: www.getnetwise.org
- GetSafeOnline - is a cross-sector UK online safety initiative: www.getsafeonline.org
- Bully OnLine - a project of the Field Foundation, founded by Tim Field, claims to be the world's largest internet resource on bullying and related issues: www.bullyonline.org