Author: Gary Hibberd
Date: 9th February 2021
Since 2011 ‘Safer Internet Day’ has been running nationally and internationally, and this years theme is ‘An Internet we Trust’.
But what does this mean? And how involved are you in this campaign?
Is ‘Safer Internet Day’ just another day? Or is it something you engage with fully? Perhaps 2021 is the year we begin to look at this topic more seriously. We have all been ‘forced’ to spend time at home, and our use of digital devices has dramatically increased over the last twelve months, and there’s no sign that this will change any time soon.
Awareness Days and Continual Improvement
This year’s theme is “An Internet we Trust: exploring reliability in the online world”, and it’s an inspired title because we all need to be working together to make the world a safer, better place to be; either offline or online. Of course, this means that companies like Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube and others need to be doing their bit. But even if they aren’t, does this mean we don’t take a stance ourselves to improve the lives of those around us?
We all have a part to play in increasing the awareness of the risks and issues surrounding our online world, but we need to ensure we do it responsibly when it comes to children and those we seek to lead.
Having ‘Awareness Days’ is something we hear a lot about in Cybersecurity. Although it is becoming less common to see just one day allotted to the topic, some people still run an awareness day annually and wonder why there are still issues and breaches. The reason is simple; Awareness shouldn’t be a 24hr thing. It needs to be an enduring programme of continual improvement.
Working “together for a better internet” means taking joint responsibility, and personal accountability to making small, incremental changes that have a broader impact. This starts with you, the reader of this blog.
How do you eat an elephant?
How do you make the Internet a safer (better) place? Like eating the proverbial elephant; One byte at a time.
If you have children, and they are still at school, or even pre-school; What conversations are you having with them about their digital lives? Are you putting the ‘fear-of-God’ into them, or are you having sensible and levelled conversations? How much time are they spending online? Who are they spending time with?
For kids of a certain age; If you’re not educating them on what the Internet is all about, someone else will be. That someone could be a friend they have never met. Someone they have cultivated a close bond with, who they have never seen in real-life. The temptation is to state that the Government should be doing more to legislate and that large companies should be taking more responsibilities to make the Internet a safer place. But that view is too easy. On the one hand, we cry ‘Government do more!’ then when they do, we scream “This is not a nanny-state! You can’t tell us what to do!”
I’d love to say I have the perfect answer to this problem, but I don’t think I do. Or, perhaps I have.
What a Wonderful World
The world is a beautiful place full of wonder and exciting things for us to explore. There are experiences and lessons to be learned and places to explore that others can only dream of. But there are dangers lurking around corners, and hidden in the dark. There are people who would seek to do us harm, and there are risks we all have to take, day-in and day-out, in order to survive.
Our online world is no less beautiful and no less risky. There are great things for us to see and to explore, but there are dangers and risks just waiting for us to be complacent or ignorant of them.
We need to have levelled conversations with those around us about our digital lives’; Both the positives and negatives. Not just those little people running around our homes, destroying furniture and love lives! I’m talking about our families, our employees and our suppliers.
If each of us takes responsibility for our own little corner of the digital world we live in, then the Internet could indeed be a safer place for us all.
Will it ever be totally free from danger and risk? Of course not. But neither is the real world. There will always be dangers and risks for us to navigate, but if we educate those around us to the positives and the negatives of our digital lives, then this can only be a good thing. Right?
To quote a famous song, “Maybe I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.” There are countless people out there trying to make the Internet a safer place. From consultants, teachers, developers and designers, to lawmakers, and large corporations. Will they get it right? No. There are parents, guardians, families and teachers doing their best too. Will they get it right? No. But if we all keep on doing out bit to make our corner of the Internet a little safer, then together we will make the Internet a better place for us all.
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