We hear it all the time – we need to be cybersafe each and every day. What exactly, though, does being cybersafe mean? While formal definitions will vary, “cybersafe” can be summed up quite effectively as “the safe and responsible use of information and communication online.”
Unfortunately, the issue of safety on the internet doesn’t hit home with most people until they hear about a tragic story in the news or are informed of the eye-popping statistics that have been researched.
If you are an avid follower of the Megan Meier Foundation blog or have seen our #TipTuesday or #FactFriday weekly trends on Facebook and Twitter, you may have come across a few of these eye opening statistics in your community:
- 42% of kids have been bullied online
- 75% of kids have visited websites bashing others
- 81% of teens think bullying online is easier to get away with than bullying in person
- Only 1 in 10 teens tell a parent if they have been a victim of cyberbullying
- Fewer than 1 in 5 cyberbullying incidents are reported to law enforcement
- Save all the evidence! If you’re experiencing cyberbullying, take screenshots of everything. This gives you reinforcement if things start to get too out of hand.
- Contact the police. Cyberbullying laws are evident throughout the United States today and police have the power to help you in such cases unlike years past.
- Protect your accounts. Be aware that social networking outlets (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) have significantly improved their privacy policies over the years. Never share your passwords with anyone and don’t accept random friend requests from people you have not met.
But what is and isn’t appropriate to share online?
At one point or another, we’ve all said or did something we wish we could take back. When we do it in person, sometimes we can get away with it because it is not documented. However, whatever you say on social media IS documented and can be used against you down the line.
With that said, here is a list of 5 do’s and don’ts (on a list of many) when it comes to what is appropriate to share online:
- Breaking/important news in the media.
- Vary your posts – be different and unique.
- Use humor! (As long as it doesn’t attack another person(s) or group.)
- Milestones and other important date related news.
- Photos/videos that capture the pure happiness of your life and won’t degrade others in any manner.
- Your address and phone number.
- Personal finance information.
- Your password(s) to anything.
- Personal conversations.
- Photos/videos depicting illegal or frowned upon activity of any sort.
Keep your digital footprint clean and remember this golden rule: Your social media accounts are NOT a diary. Their purpose is not to feel compelled to share every second of every day with your followers. Think of it this way, if you already posted 15 photos and videos of the concert you were at Friday night, before you’ve even left the concert, what are you going to have to talk about when you see the rest of your friends? Chances are, they’ve already seen your photos, right?
Keep your private moments private and be aware when you find yourself oversharing personal moments, no matter how happy or exciting they may have been. Or as we like to say; hang up and hang out!
Protect yourself using your privacy settings in social media.
One of the most important aspects of the social media experience is understanding the privacy settings of various networks and knowing your rights when using them.
Whether you’re on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other social media network, there are rules and regulations that all individuals must follow, or risk facing the consequences.
When an individual signs up for any social networking account, they agree to be respectful in both what they post and the manner in which they communicate with other users.
Unfortunately, there are thousands of people who ignore these precautions set aside for the safety and enjoyment of others, and that’s when action needs to be taken.
Additionally, it’s crucial to the social media experience to know the difference between a public and private profile. More times than not, anyone who has a public profile does so without putting much thought into it (they are public by default), and the more aware/educated users manually change their profiles to private.
You can learn more about social media and how to make reports by visiting our website at the Megan Meier Foundation (links below):
Social media friends/followers – how important are they really?
A huge friends/followers list is not all it’s cracked up to be. The person with 2,000 followers, has 2,000 people that are constantly aware of their every move through the use of social media and opens the doors to potential dangers down the road.
Think about this example. Let’s say Person A (we’ll call her Sam) has recently become a target of cyberbullying through the use of Facebook. Sam has 1,500 friends, the majority of whom he’s never actually met in person.
Although Sam has taken the right step to make his profile private, the truth is his personal information is still available for those 1,500 friends who he is friends with on Facebook. He can go through his list of friends and try to identity who may be attacking him, but that is surly a long, exhausting, and potentially never-ending and never-resolving situation.
Person B (we’ll call her Lauren) has 80 friends on Facebook, all of whom she knows through family, school, work, and recreational sports.
Like Sam, Lauren has a private profile but in her case, only those 80 well-known individuals have access to her information. Should Lauren ever become a target for cyberbullying, her awareness and decision-making to think ahead would benefit her greatly.
The bottom line: Becoming friends with people you have never met, nor will ever speak to on the social media pages does nothing to improve your social standing. Only add trusted individuals on these websites.
The internet and technology in general have opened so many doors for our generation, however, that hasn’t come without it’s fair share of challenges.
Most of the activity that the average person experiences online may seem innocent and completely harmless, but real-life dangers can always be just a click away.
With your help, we can make a difference. Help end the fight against bullying. Join the conversation using the hashtag #CyberSafe and #BeTheChange.