Staying Safe and Wise Online

November 30, 2023

In today’s digital age, the internet plays a significant role in our lives, providing us with endless opportunities for learning, entertainment, and socializing. However, it is crucial for children and teenagers, like us, to be aware of the potential risks associated with online activities, such as cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content. This article aims to educate and empower young users to navigate the online world safely and wisely.

Understanding Cyberbullying:

In simple terms, cyberbullying is the use of technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. This directly shows the different forms of cyberbullying, such as harassment, online threats, and spreading rumors.

Though it may sound too personal, I recently had a cousin go through therapy because of online harassment. A random guy texted her anonymously on her Instagram, Tiktok, and other social media accounts. Being an innocent 13-year-old, she thought he was a nice person and maybe even knew her. So, she decided to say hi, and that was the beginning of a disaster. He began abusing her with uncouth words. This may not sound severe to some, but trust me, she became so depressed that she even refused to eat. It reached a point where she wanted to jump off her room’s balcony, but her brother saved her. She is now in therapy, and we hope she gets well.

From that story, we can hopefully understand the importance of using polite words and treating others with respect online. Words that may seem insignificant to you can profoundly impact someone else’s life. It’s also essential to have open communication with parents, teachers, and trusted adults.

Identifying and Addressing Harmful Content:

Harmful content includes violence, hate speech, explicit materials that may corrupt the morals of children and teenagers like us, and materials that negatively affect how we see the world online and our interests. The best way to avoid harmful content is to have guardian or parent-controlled devices and be cautious of apps that make one vulnerable to harmful materials. I would advise all parents to be extremely careful about what we concentrate on as children, especially when online. This way, children and teenagers can develop healthy media consumption habits and critical thinking skills. One should always think twice before promoting hate speech, violence, or other harmful materials online.

Effects of Cyberbullying and Exposure:

Cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content continue to affect children and teenagers around the world emotionally, psychologically, and socially. Long-term impacts may include depression, antisocial behavior, and other social problems. Mental health in children and teenagers can be greatly affected, resulting in a lack of confidence and fear of social stigma. My cousin can be a good example to show how deeply online experiences can affect children and teenagers. In case you are affected, apply self-care strategies and seek support from trusted individuals or Child Helpline 116.

Tips for Using the Internet Wisely:

Since it’s important for us to have a safe online life, it’s good for one to:

  • Establish a positive digital footprint by being mindful of online actions.
  • Set privacy settings and control personal information sharing.
  • Create strong and unique passwords to protect accounts.
  • Have our guardians and parents educate us on scams, phishing, and online predators.
  • Encourage responsible social media use and healthy online relationships among ourselves.

The internet is a powerful tool that offers incredible opportunities for growth and development. However, it’s crucial for children and teenagers, like us, to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate the online world safely and wisely. By understanding the risks associated with cyberbullying and exposure to harmful content, young users like ourselves can make informed decisions, be responsible digital citizens, and foster a positive online environment for all. With knowledge and awareness, we can create a safer and more enjoyable online experience. Have fun, stay safe!

By Emran Hassan, environmental activist.

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