What is the first thing you do in the morning right after you wake up? I’ve asked a few friends this question. Some say they pray first, while a few others said they do their morning chores. But a huge majority of them admit that they immediately grab their phones to check their social media accounts for any updates.
Our profound connection to the online world is undeniable. We, young people, can’t seem to separate ourselves from our electronic devices for a single second. After all, we make up 1/3 of all internet users globally.
In this digital age, we can’t deny the incredible opportunities the internet offers. However, this bright space that is full of junctures for learning and entertainment, is also full of potholes, risks, and real-life threats, unseen from afar. While there is a rapid expansion of communication technologies, we are also making ourselves vulnerable to threats and dangers online.
Staying safe and protected while being connected has become a vital need. We need to be armed against the looming forces of evil on the internet.
Here are some basic internet etiquettes for us to stay safe online:
1. AVOID GIVING OUT TMI (TOO MUCH INFORMATION)
Cyber space has become an avenue for socialisation, and most of all, self-expression. With just a single click, we can share and access every kind of information we can possibly think of.
Yes, we have the right to express ourselves online, however, we should also be aware of our limitations and responsibilities.
It is important that we are 100% careful with the kind of content we share online. Whenever you’re about to post something, decide if your post is ‘safe to share’ or ‘risky to share’ because once you share something in the online world, it is hard to remove it.
Yes, you can delete the actual post, but others may already have taken a copy of it (never underestimate the power of a screenshot). Strangers might even take advantage of personal information you post and may use it against you.
So in the words of Miss Universe 2016, Pia Wurtzbach, “Think before you click”.
2. REVIEW YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNT AND UNFRIEND STRANGERS
Do you remember one of those basic rules that we were taught when we were younger? Do not talk to strangers. We must apply this caution every time we are online. We should always take note of the “stranger danger” mantra.
We need to recognise that all people online are strangers. They are people who we do not know personally and who can potentially harm us. They are our social media ‘friends’ who could strike at any time.
So, take time to review your friends’ list and unfriend people you do not know.
What good does it serve to have thousands of friends online? It only takes one post to threaten your safety.
Moving forward, only accept friends’ requests from people you know personally. If we are cautious and vigilant, the online world cannot do any harm to us.
Also, try scrolling down through your previous posts and decide which photos are worth keeping or deleting. There might be some photos which are too revealing. Take down those posts immediately, and make sure you adjust your privacy settings.
3. POST RESPONSIBLY
As much as the internet empowers and entertains us, it should be treated with responsibility and caution so you can enjoy the internet safely. We should all be responsible netizens.
We are all familiar with the proverb, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” right? We should all live by this moral code, both in the real world and in the virtual world.
These are the 3 key points which we should all live by when online for our own protection. They are easy-to-follow steps, right? You can be the catalyst of change that you want to see in the online world!
Mau, 16, is one of over 100 youth peer educators trained by Plan International Philippines under the Collaborative Action against Trafficking initiative. Together with her fellow educators, she is teaching her peers to use their voices to build safer communities, protect children and stop child trafficking.