Safer Internet Day 2020 | Together for a Better InternetThe Internet is one of the greatest tools ever devised, but like all tools, it can be used for good or ill. Children are especially vulnerable to harm and innocent to the harm they might do and the harm that might be done to them by predators, opportunists, and other unscrupulous actors. That’s why Safer Internet Day (SID) was inaugurated in Europe in 2004. It has since spread around the world to at least 100 nations, including the United States. This year’s observance was Feb. 11, 2020. The theme is “Together for a Better Internet.” SID isn’t about scaremongering, of crying the sky is falling, but about spreading awareness of the dangers, encouraging wider participation, and everybody working together to make the Internet a safer place for everyone. The dangers include graphic sexual images, extortion, and other cybercrimes such as the marketing of dangerous and addictive drugs. Children, especially, need protection from cyberbullies, and the guidance to avoid becoming a cyberbully. They need to not be too open with their personal information or to impinge on someone else’s privacy or reputation. And they need to be skeptical about opening emails and attachments, especially from strangers. Some of the suggestions for SID include:
- Be kind, and respectful. Some people seem to think the anonymity of the Internet gives them carte blanche to be as vulgar and cruel as they can. Even when one doesn’t agree with someone, it isn’t necessary to be nasty in expressing this disagreement.
- Be responsible. Don’t spread misinformation. Check your facts before sharing something. Better yet, learn critical thinking skills. Not everything on the Internet is to be accepted at face value. When in doubt, fact-check. Snopes.com is one useful site, especially for Internet hoaxes.
- Be creative. The Internet shouldn’t be boring. Share your prose, your art, your love of something. Create a web page or a video game.
- Be a positive digital role model. Demonstrate the online behavior you think others should emulate.
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