Google Presentation taken by Jink Screenshot

Some people choose to have nothing to do with the Internet because they the think the risks are too high, that someone will seek them out, use their information inappropriately, or try to hack into their private life.  We can call these people a virtual hermit.  Why a “virtual” hermit? Because it would be hard for even the most stringent hermit to keep his name out of some sort of virtual database.  Bank accounts, credit card accounts, service accounts, and even governmental records on citizens are kept in virtual safes.  So as the rest of the world forges ahead with Internet activity, what can the virtual hermit expect from his lack virtual participation. The problem with this approach is that it will become more difficult to function, much less compete, in the world without some sort of virtual identity.

Don’t get me wrong, when you or your information are connected to the Internet, there are risks.  However, there are many benefits to having access to the Internet and for this reason it is used so widely, so much so, that everyday activities are being completed online.  If you don’t participate, you will be left behind (Free Press Org, 2009). None the less, you should be aware or your effect of your activity on the Internet as well as the dangers.  This acronym  “RISKS” will help you remember these important details about your risk management while you our online.

R is for Responsibility

Most institutes require student to sign some sort of Acceptable Use Policy in order to access the Internet or computer equipment in an organized learning environment.  In other words, the users are required to be responsible with the privileged of Internet access.  This refers to anything that is related to the intentional search and network bypass of digital material that is not appropriate for school or is contrary to school and social ethics.  The Kent School District has set up an Internet Safety & Cyber Citizenship page that not only advises about Cyber Citizenship, but also points out common online risks.

I is for Information

There is a debate about how much personal information should be used in online profiles.  This short video, “Privacy and Responsibility on the Internet: Who Should Control your Identity on the Web?” by the Carnegie Council will point out both sides of the debate.  Some argue for anonymity for safety purposes, while other argue for the efficiency of data transfer with secure online profiles.  Google is a proponent of the later, and here is their video about how to set up a secure profile using Google services.

If you are not certain about the security of your online profile, it is wise to limit the amount of personal information that you include in that profile.

S is for Seekers

The two primary features of the Internet are 1) it helps connect people, and 2) it is vast.  Because of these two features, there are a lot of people that try to connect with or get the attention of many people across the Internet.  The majority of these seekers come in the form of harmless advertisements or online acquaintances.  Unfortunately, there are seekers that don’t know you, but will try to make personal connections.  You may not know the motives of these seekers, but because of the uncertainty, it is recommended not to engage in online contact with that person.  Most social networks provide the option to decline a communication request, or to even expel an online contact if their behavior has become offensive or too personal.

Perhaps the type of seeker that gets the most attention and warning are the online predators.  Here is an interesting report called “1 in 7 Youth: The Statistics about Online Sexual Solicitations” by the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

KS is for Kinky Sharing

Perhaps the biggest risk that face online users is the one that they least expect.  Kinky is a word in general that means crazy or unacceptable; sharing refers to the way in which people can easily share online content and information with friends.  Together, these two words are a recipe for disaster.  It is quite common that someone wants to share either personal information about themselves with a friend, or even intimate photos of themselves, and they probably don’t intend to share it with other people.  Unfortunately, confidence has been betrayed many times in these circumstances and the unthinkable happens, many people have read or seen your private information.  Here is a basic rule that you should follow for posting any information online: if you will be embarrassed or ridiculed by these words or content, don’t post it.  This is not to say that friends can’t be trusted, or that those that share personal content without your consent shouldn’t be punished, but the most secure way of protecting your private content, is not to share it in the first place.

Also, be aware that some online places will make your correspondence available to the public, even when it is shared between two individuals.  Take for example the US Congressman and his Tweet Scandal.

References:

Video Free Press (2009, April 9) What is the “digital divide?” . Retrieved Oct. 22, 2012 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCIB_vXUptY
Advertisements