7 Steps to Being Safe Online

For more positive suggestions see the article I recently wrote on Digital Citizenship. Living in the world in which parole “it didn’t happen if it’s not online” could be considered as a single line manual for 21st century, raises the questions (and sometimes eyebrows) regarding conceptualisation of privacy and safety of our content. Since it is very unlikely that we will migrate to the offline world, here are the cornerstones of internet safety that every student needs to know:

 1. What happens online stays online; Digital Footprint

Even though we are all familiar with deleting our posts, shares, browsing history and similar, we seem to oversee the fact that anything that has seen the light of our screens, permanently stays there. One way or the other, all the data is saved on massive servers and probably cannot be deleted ever again. That’s what Edward Snowden showed us. Without much awareness, we leave traces of our data and share personal information. Out of sight, out of mind is not something that applies to the internet. For more information check out cybersafe.com.au 

2. Sharing

While sharing could be downsized to the whole idea of social media, sharing any personal information is absolutely off limits. Date of birth, phone number, address, passwords or such are something that should always be avoided in online communication. Not only because of the lack of trust in people we could encounter, but also because we might end up as potential scam victims, while our personal information gets misused.

3. Protection

Always using unique and strong passwords might look like an impossible and tedious task while we are at it, but it is of utmost importance when it comes to internet safety. http://i.imgur.com/zFyBtyA.gif

This is why students should be encouraged to avoid smart-saving of passwords or using the same password for multiple accounts. Many social media platforms offer an opportunity to hide our profiles from the public, which is always a good prevention.

4. Recognise Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying has become a new channel for performing aggravating behavior among kids and teenagers. Due to its recent emergence and non-stopping exchange of data, it is often misunderstood for a temporary and teasing interaction, rather than serious form of abusive manner of communication which can affect students mental health and outlook on life. 

5. Online Society

We use our social media to interact with people from our school, town and family. This is how we meet persons that see eye to eye with us, or the contrary. Despite providing a global experience and chance to broaden our knowledge and understanding, there is also a big question mark levitating above the one’s true identity. Since it is quite easy to open multiple email addresses, profiles and accounts, it is difficult to determine if we know who we are actually talking to. In order to encourage students to bear this in mind, teachers are advised to stress the importance of not accepting request from strangers, not to arrange meetings with such individuals, not share confidential information or data.

6. Provide a Safe Space

All of the mentioned pieces of the advice are something that can be implemented in an online sphere. What is actually of the greatest importance is providing a safe space, where problems that occur in virtual reality could be shared without prejudice or ridicule with you, as the teacher. Nowadays, kids are raised to embrace the technological impact on their self-esteem and relationships with others, while at the same time casting a shadow over long-term effects of popular communication. Being a reliable person, or a person off the grid, could be a first step towards coping with problems among adolescents and children that are yet to be understood. Apart from listening, understanding and giving a helping hand, you can also direct them to many web pages that can react if unwanted content is being shared.

Useful links:

7. Manage Expectations

Young people don’t think about consciences like older people do. We have hurt and experiences which make us second guess before posting. They don’t. One helpful way to make sure your both on the same page is to voice expectations. Below I designed a mobile phone contract – well, more of a conversation starter. Talk through some points with your young person. Make sure your both on the same page about online safety. If will save a lot of fights and pain in the future.

Esafety opencolleges.edu.au//cyber-safety/ kidshealth.org/en/teens/internet-safety https://www.youtube.com/ https://www.pressreader.com/australia/south-burnett

As always if you have questions, worries or concerns don’t hesitate to email me on the contact page and i’ll do my best to get back to you as quick as possible.

– Jonny Shannon

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