The voice of mercy is truly authentic when it is the voice of justice.
Ethel Bignell rsm
The internet has opened so many amazing digital doors for us all – from seemingly boundless sources of knowledge, through to social media and e-commerce, we are living and thriving in the information age.
While no one likes a scaremonger, the internet is also an environment with a darker side. Such is the powerful nature of the platform, its pages are constantly multiplying, and not everyone’s contribution is positive.
Many of us have heard of unfortunate cases involving cyberbullying, scams, fraud, and content that offends, and while not all of us have had these experiences, it’s best to approach the internet with a level of preparedness that keeps us safe and sound.
Here are some of our top tips when it comes to internet safety:
- Keep your information private: when you are involved with social media, it’s important to educate yourself on the security settings. Unfortunately, unsavory people and those with nasty agendas tend to prey on those whose information they can easily steal from open and unrestricted social media profiles. Ensure your profile remains visible only to your contacts and don’t accept friend requests or make connections with strangers.
- A positive digital footprint: a good reputation takes a long time to build but can easily be compromised in a matter of moments – just one thoughtless tweet or email. Think about everything you write on the internet being in permanent marker – it might be able to be erased, but copies of it could still very well float around, or be shared by others, so choose your words wisely and treat others like you would want to be treated. The internet may offer a veil of anonymity, but unflattering behaviour is hurtful to you and to others and is more often than not exposed.
- Embrace parental controls: we all know that ‘looking over the shoulder’ feeling from parents can feel a bit frustrating, but it’s important to remember that when they take an interest in your internet use, they have your best interest at heart. Have candid conversations with your parents about your internet activity so they don’t feel the need to pry and be open to them setting parental controls to help protect you from running into trouble online.
- Ask for help/support: if you find yourself in a situation that makes you uncomfortable, report it straight away to a trusted confidant like your friend, parents, or school counselor. If you are becoming a victim of online bullying through social media, record it, and report it.