Making the Internet a Better Place for All Users
The Internet, as we know it, has grown to be a massive virtual space where people can not only find information, but share information, find people, make recommendations, and much more. Although the Internet can be a helpful and interactive space, it can also be a dangerous space, especially for children.
We’re well aware of ill-intended content, fake information, scams, and other information that exists through the Internet, but one of the questions that Safer Internet Day raises is:
How can we all make the Internet a better place for users?
There are a number of things that we as adults, our colleagues, and even our children can do to help create a better experience with Internet use. In this post, we share some tips on Internet safety and recommended practices.
Internet Safety Tips & Good Practices
For Adults & Parents
- Be mindful before submitting personal information online – With the number of prompts that we come in contact with online today, it’s easy to begin thinking that’s it’s okay to share our information in exchange for something that we want, and that’s not the case. In fact, we need to be more discriminating when we’re prompted for our personal information and do our homework before making any exchange – whether that’s for information, a product, or even a service.
- Ask friends/colleagues their permission before sharing on social – We often feel excited during or after an event and want to share those moments with our social media connections. It’s considerate, however, to ask those in your photos or videos for their permission to post before sharing. In doing this, you’re being respectful of their privacy and desires.
- Monitor your child’s Internet use – Children may not understand why their safety is important while using the Internet, and they may wander onto websites that aren’t safe or good to visit. Give your child parameters with the websites they can visit, and keep an eye on their browsing.
- Be mindful before sharing photos of your child – While we adore their firsts and quirky moments, be careful about sharing photos of your child online. Some people prey on children and their identities to abuse for their own purposes. Just like for adults, there are identity thieves looking for information that they can exploit and misuse. There are some additional ways that you can help protect yourself and your children from identity theft.
- Create an open space to talk with your child concerning online issues – Keep an open line of communication with your child about online-related issues. You should assure your child that if they are not sure about something online or feel strange about something online, then they should not be afraid to come to you. In this way, you’re working to prevent problems before they start by staying in communication with your child.
For Adolescents & Children
- Be careful with what you share online and your reputation – Following your friends’ lead is not always best. Whether it’s a meme, photo, video, or some other information, ask yourself these questions before you hit that share button: How will sharing this make me look before others? Are there any negative consequences for sharing this online? Will I offend someone if I share this online? Will sharing this information negatively affect my privacy?
- Be nice in-person (and online) – It’s great to be kind in-person in your classes and with your peers, but it’s also important to be kind when you’re online. Hurtful comments have real consequences, and mistakes you make now can follow you into college and even your professional career. This is part of what makes up your character. Keep the Internet an open place for all to interact without being afraid of being bullied or mistreated.
- Be careful about trusting online users – Everyone who reaches out to you on social media may not be friendly. If you get a friend request, ask yourself before accepting if you know this person. If not, then don’t add them. There are scammers and people who put out false information with the aim to gather information that does not belong to them so they can misuse it. Don’t respond to every request and direct message online.
- If you’re not sure how to navigate online, seek help – In the event that you’re not sure how to look up information or navigate online, then it’s totally okay to ask for help. A friend or relative (your grandkids would probably love to show you how things work) may be able to provide the assistance you need if you’re not familiar with using the Internet or have a question regarding a website’s legitimacy.
- Don’t trust everyone who contacts you online – Similar to marketing calls, don’t trust everyone who’s offering to “help” you with a problem that you’re experiencing. If you have any doubts, it’s better not to reach back out to them to protect yourself and your information from being exploited.
Although most of these tips seem like common sense, it’s worth reiterating to help you navigate and use the Internet more safely. We may not ever completely rid the Internet of bad practices and abusers, but we can keep ourselves aware of Internet-related issues and challenges.