Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day 2020 #FreeToBe

Today is Safer Internet Day, an event established by the European Network of Safer Internet Centres. Since 2004 they have used the day to raise awareness of different online issues each year, ranging from cyberbullying through to identity theft. This year's theme is '#freetobe', talking about the real and constructed identities people use online, with the global strapline of 'together for a better internet'.

I like that because I think the most important thing about internet safety is that we all have a role to play. That doesn't mean censoring everything until the information superhighway resembles a never-ending sanitised loop of Barney is a Dinosaur. It just means being sensible and having realistic expectations.

Telling adults they need to keep inappropriate content to the appropriate fora, and have responsibilities to adhere to T&Cs and legislation. Teaching kids they need boundaries and have every right to back click out of content, triggering or otherwise. How to report stuff that shouldn't be available in spaces aimed at them, and the individuals who make the internet a drag for everyone.

You can be a better version of yourself online. Cooler, cleverer, trendier - whatever you want. But, if you wouldn't do something 'IRL', you still need to think twice before you do it behind the safety of a keyboard. Would you say the kind of things littering the average newspaper comment section if you could see the impact it has on the person you're saying it to? Would you tell a total stranger in the street your most intimate thoughts and feelings?

Don't live in fear of what could be, but that doesn't mean you have go out of your way to look for trouble either. If you're not sure if someone - be it Google or a Nigerian Prince - can be trusted with your personal information, it's fine not to share everything with them.

Because some things are just better left unseen...

Naked pictures sound like fun,
Until you break up and they make their way back to your mom.
And all of the creepers -
Cranking it, spanking it, and passing them on,
Posting it, showing it, and blowing them up.
Don't take those pictures like you do,
Of you in your birthday suit.

Safer Internet Day 2020

Check out their great range of resources for parents and carers - the sections on talking to younger children about internet safety are particularly good.

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