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Tips On Internet Safety and Netiquette.

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Internet Safety and the Brave New World that is Social Media

Today we are going to talk about internet etiquette and safety. While Emily Post may not have a book out on internet etiquette or better known as netiquette, it certainly exists. I wish more people understood and practiced it.

Check Yourself.....

  • Do you have proper netiquette?
  • What are the basic rules of netiquette?
  • Why is good netiquette important?

Just like in real life, there are certain rules you should follow regarding behavior online. My mom taught me to be assertive yet respectful in all walks of life. I teach my kids the same thing. This applies to the internet as well. We call these rules that govern online behavior “netiquette," which stands for “internet etiquette."

 

In recent times we have seen a massive shift in netiquette. Whether it be because of social happenings or political assumptions, people seem to be crossing the line in droves. Choosing to cloak their opinions as facts and imposing them on others in the assumed anonymity of the internet. From popular political figures and news anchors creating controversy to the twitter wars among celebrities and even among friends on private FB pages, it seems no one is immune to the ill effects of bad behavior on the net. I think in an environment such as this one choosing to be authentic yet respectful has become even more crucial.

 

Let us explore ways to walk the balance between expressing ourselves and doing it with class.

  

Keep Messages and Posts Brief

Most people use the internet to save time not to mention the attention span of the average person is mere seconds.

Don’t Shout

Avoid using all caps in emails or posts. It comes off as rude.

Typing Out Your Tone

Writing doesn't always sound the same to everyone who reads it. A tone is hard to imply and takes an exceptional amount of writing finesse to achieve. Let's face it, not everyone is an accomplished writer so read and re-read your posts before posting. Ask yourself how would you feel reading it if someone else were writing it to you.

Re-Consider Your Decision Before You Make It

It is always a good idea to reread anything you type before clicking the “send” button. If you have time, step away for a few minutes and come back to it with fresh eyes you may decide not to post. It's never a good idea to respond in the heat of the moment. I know we have all done it more than once. I know I have. If not that, at least check your spelling, grammar, and tone of the message. If it is late at night, and you are exhausted, sloshed or just frustrated, it’s probably best to wait until the next morning. You can save most messages and posts in draft mode. Take this option to prevent embarrassment.

Use Discretion

Don't violate someone else's privacy. Your friend circle is a sacred sanctum of trust and respect. Sharing photographs of your friends and their family (especially their children) without their express permission is a huge NO-NO. I have had family members do this, and it puts me in an awkward place having to decide whether or not to allow them access to my photos. 

Be Age Appropriate

You know that pouted lip selfie trend that everyone is into? Ask yourself if that is a good look for you before you post one. Maybe that ample bosom profile pic wasn't the best choice if you consider your audience, the boss, the teacher, the PTA, your child's friend, your church choir director... 

Don't Be Sorry, Be Safe

Safety is the buzzword these days. Safe foods, safe skin care and oh yes… safely navigating the internet. There aren’t many imposed rules on the internet. We are just discovering how to prosecute cyber crimes, and most of these infringements are cloaked in, so the internet is mostly a brave new world to us. Which is why we can all use a refresher course in internet safety.

 

The internet has made so many things easy for us:

 

  • Shopping
  • Staying in touch with friends and family
  • Bridging gaps between cultures and countries and making learning new things easy and efficient and so much more.
  • Knowledge is power and to that effect knowing what to do and not to do on the internet is retaining your power and control on the internet.

 

Digital Footprints are Forever

 

We’ve all heard the saying. What gets on the internet is forever. So be extra careful about what you put out there about yourself and your children.

 

Here are some easy basic rules to remember.

 

Let’s talk Don't Dos first

 

Don't use your full name online unless you are a brand or don’t mind lots of general exposure. There are search engines and “bots” that do scour the internet looking names and information to put into the hands of unsavory people.

 

Don’t put anything online, pictures, personal details, life experiences, that you wouldn’t want people to see forever.  This is a good time for the mom in me to remind you to teach your children these same rules. Don’t send pictures of yourself to anyone. While you may feel comfortable with your online etiquette, you can't be sure of anyone else’s. 

 

Don't use the “check-in” feature for places unless you are with other people and aware of the risks. I've done this myself. There are a lot of location-based social media tools out there. Be mindful if you check in, people other than your friends may be able to see it, it is a public feature that benefits the location, not you. Yes, your safety is paramount but so is the safety of your family and exposing your daily routine or making public where your child attends school, etc. These small details can place you at risk. For example, regular 7 am gym check-ins mean two things to the wrong types of people. One, you are at this location at this time routinely and two you are out of the house at this time routinely.

 

Don't accept requests and invitations to connect on social media from people you do not personally know or want to know. It doesn't matter if their mutual friends are your mutual friends unless you know them personally opening your world up to them is a risk you can't afford to take.

 

Don't let people tag you or check you in places unless you give them express permission. This feature is editable in most major social media networks so disable this connect feature to protect yourself.

 

Don't post when you are going to be away from home for extended periods of time (vacation, business trips, etc.) This may sound obvious, but a lot of people indicate they are going to be away by saying things like "We always go away during spring break when the kids are out of school." It is relatively easy to figure out public information like when schools are closed. That is an invitation to thieves to come to visit your home while you're away. Here is a common mistake many make. Posting on community FB groups asking for great places to stay and eat while on vacay and in a conversation we always give away details like when and for how long. Don't geotag your pictures, even landscapes and nature scapes you choose to post publicly. Remember someone is always watching. Most community groups don't verify their users or vet them to ensure they are who they say they are. Your safety is no one else's responsibility but your own. Remember this every time you share anything online.

Don't get click Happy

We are curious by nature. Then it is no surprise that we like to read about ourselves and maybe even others. Don't fall for fake polls and surveys. Personality quizzes that ask you for a lot of personal information just to get you some generic profile that every other person gets when they take this quiz. Fake friend requests and fake apps are just a few ways scammers can spread viruses and malware to your computer and siphone your information. 

Oversharing, a Huge No- No. 

Don't assume that your friends are the only people looking at what you post on social networking sites. Employers colleges and even private schools may use social networking sites to learn more about potential students and employees. While this may not be an official way to gauge a student or employee's productivity, it is being used to weed out whom they don't want in their alma mater or corporation. So posting provocative pictures of yourself or unsavory remarks that may be racial bigotted or just plain improper is ill-advised.

Don't Assume private messaging someone you don't know is actually "private." Nothing on the internet is private. If you don't want what you say to be put on blast just don't say it on the internet. Like I tell my kids, leaving a digital trail is as tangible as renting a billboard on the highway.

Here are some internet best practices for you to use.

DO change your password every six months to a crazy mix of numbers, characters, letters that are hard to crack. There are apps that bad guys have designed to crack passwords that lean on repetitive use and familiarity. To protect yourself against this changing passwords that don't use your details like birthdays anniversaries etc. is super imperative. If you need help with passwords – generating or remembering them – try a tool like LastPass or random.org

 

Do practice safe and secure browsing on the Internet and in social media – online and mobile from your phone or tablet. Try to make sure you see ‘https:’ in the URL/address bar when available. The ‘s’ at the end of ‘http’ means it is “secure browsing” and is better than plain ole ‘http.’ Facebook and Twitter now offer secure browsing on their service. Make sure you go into the Preferences and turn that ‘ON’ to add that layer of security.

 

Do make sure to turn “location services” off of your social media apps if you want your locations to remain private. Many apps for your Smartphones and tablets now have location services built in including Facebook, Twitter, Vine, Instagram, and Pinterest. You can choose to turn these off to keep people from seeing where you are when you post something.

 

Teach the Kids a few golden Rules about Staying Safe

 

Our kids use apps like Musically, Minecraft and gaming apps that also offer friending and chat features. While it is perfectly natural for them to assume those who play these games are the same age as they are. It is more likely these are bad people trying to cultivate information from our kids they can then use to locate them or at the very least abuse their trust online.

  • Do not share personal information. Name, address, email phone numbers 
  • Do not send photographs
  • Divulge personal details or daily schedule where they are, will be or what local events they are attending, etc.

Some may disapprove of this next rule. But as a parent, it is our duty to ensure our kids are safe and part of that involves occasionally invading their privacy. Between ages infancy to 15 maybe even 17, it is OK to check your child's internet activity occasionally to ensure they are following these safety guidelines. This is also a great way to gauge your child's emotional health, guard against cyberbullying and bad internet fads like the ones we've seen in the past. The cinnamon challenge or the choking game. Some may think of this as encroaching on their fledgling privacy, but I prescribe to a very simple rule. I'd rather apologize for being nosy and controlling than apologize for not protecting them from something terrible happening from which neither of us may recover. This does not mean you act on everything you find in your quest to ensure they re safe. Meaning stay focused on your task to only monitor online safety, not police or harass them about the content you find they are surfing. I feel this needed to be said for obvious reasons.

I hope I was able to shed some light on details you were previously not aware of, but most importantly bring you back to addressing your online habits and maybe revisiting your privacy setting on the various sites you often use to protect yourself and your loved ones better.

Lastly to remind you to be kind. My grandma's most memorable advice to me when I got married was this. If you had to choose between being right or being kind, choose the latter every time. I have held her suggestion close to my heart all these years, and it has served me well in my marriage. I hope it helps you well in your life also.


 

Should you feel like some 'me time' after all this reading and slogging over your privacy settings, grab a nice long soak in the tub or give yourself an at-home pedicure with our natural line of luxury skin care. Grab them at Lotus + Aire.

 

 

 

 

 

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