How to stay safe online
Most people today take it for granted that we live in a digital age – but now that so much of what we do is online, it’s important to be aware of how to stay safe.
Imagine you’ve just walked into a room full of people you don’t know. Would you immediately share personal information with them or arrange to meet them again without finding out more about them? Equally, would you go up to a complete stranger and start making rude comments about the way they look or dress?
You may feel safe and invisible in the comfort of your own home, but here are some pitfalls to avoid and tips to help you stay safe online.
1. Personally speaking
If you share personal details, there’s a risk that you’re sharing them with people you don’t know – and in some cases, don’t want to know.
Keep your privacy settings on high and be particularly careful with your personal email address and mobile phone number, as well as information about where you live or where you are going out.
2. Are they who they say they are?
It’s easy for others to hide behind a false identity online. Be careful if you’re approached by someone you don’t know. Are they genuine or pretending to be someone they are not? Never arrange to meet up alone with someone you don’t know, especially if you are underage – if they ask you to, tell your parent, guardian or other responsible adult.
3. Picture perfect?
While it’s tempting to post pictures and videos of yourself and others, make sure they aren’t in any way revealing or compromising. For starters, a future employer may get to see them, ruining your job prospects.
Much worse, you could be breaking sex offence laws or, if they are under 18, liable for prosecution under child protection legislation, both of which can lead to prison sentences.
4. Adding insult to injury
We all say things we regret at times, but if you post them on a social media site, you can’t retract them – even if you delete the comment, someone might have already passed it on.
Whether you are talking about a celebrity or anyone else in the news, or someone you know at school, college or work, remember that writing thoughtless and insulting comments can genuinely cause hurt. In fact it’s a form of bullying – which, could cause retaliation or, in the worse cases, lead to prosecution or to the person causing themselves harm.
The above is know as ‘Trolling’. Trolling is a slang word to describe somebody who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community with the deliberate intent of provoking.
5. Age and addiction
Some sites are supposed to be blocked to people under a certain age – there’s a reason for this, so they are best avoided.
It’s also easy to get addicted to online sites – whether gaming or gambling – which can have a detrimental effect on your daily life, from being late to college or work to losing friends or getting debt.
To conclude: if you are about to say or do something online, consider whether you would say or do it in front of other people. If not, perhaps you should think again.
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CMS Vocational Training Ltd can be contacted on 01924 470 477.