Safer Internet Day: What Can We Do to Effect Change?
Safer Internet Day occurs on Tuesday, February 8th, and will be celebrating its 19th annual event this year. The aim of Safer Internet Day is to make the internet a safer place, for kids in particular, by raising awareness of emerging online issues and current concerns – from cyberbullying to social networking to digital identity.
This year, we’ve rounded up some of the key concerns that we feel surrounds internet use in 2022:
Cyberbullying is a significant problem in society today. It’s a global issue that can come in many forms: trolling, harassment, cyberstalking, outing, and more. Cyberbullying causes a host of mental health issues, as well as loneliness, isolation, self-harm, body dysmorphia, and in the absolute worst cases, suicide. Cyberbullying mainly affects teens but has been known to affect younger kids as well, and also adults.
Raising awareness is our first port of call – in schools and educational institutions especially. We need to make ourselves understand how to recognize the signs of cyberbullying and find effective ways of dealing with it. Parents, teachers, and governing bodies also need to adopt a zero-tolerance policy where cyberbullying is concerned – it is not acceptable on any level. In the words of the Safer Internet Day manifesto, we can only maintain a better world if we all work together.
This is a slightly tricky one because children especially won’t always understand what the ramifications are of posting or giving away personal data. The main premise is: be extremely careful about what you post on the internet. Posts, images, messages can all come back to haunt you later in life. Even with social media platforms such as Snapchat’s ‘disappearing messages’ feature, all posts can ultimately be used against you – all it takes is for someone to take a screenshot.
Again, in terms of who this affects, all generations need to be more careful about what we post online, in order to make the internet a better place. There needs to be more education surrounding cyberspace awareness – especially for kids. Once personal private data, or potentially embarrassing images, get put onto any public forum, it’s out there and likely to stay out there for years to come.
The internet is full of enticing offers – adults and children alike can easily be duped by the many freebies and promotions out there. Children are more likely to be enticed by game freebies, in-app purchases, and music downloads – but phishing, formjacking, and cracked games are also notoriously hazardous. These types of scams encourage you to do things like give up sensitive personal information, offer up credit card details, and even make payments.
We need to teach our kids to be wary of online offers – especially ones that sound too good to be true. Kids should be taught to not give out credit card information without first checking with their parents or reviewing the site’s credentials. Adults and kids must also look out for suspect hyperlinks – just because it says ‘open here’, doesn’t mean you should! Kids should also be taught at an early age to not engage with messages from strangers online, in order to avoid scams.
The general overall themes here are ‘Education’ and ‘Awareness’ – and it’s these two components, together with positive action, which will help us make the internet a safer place.