11th February is being celebrated as Safer Internet Day. It must be of great significance to all of us, integral part of whose lives revolve around internet. From office to personal lives, internet has become a mainstay, with exception of those individuals who have vowed not to be dirtied by this technology. Thus our lives, or our friends’ and relatives’ lives are connected, to small or large extent, to the internet. For us and for all of them, this day should bear some significance. In a world where being on the internet, as Edward Snowden would want us to believe, is like living an open-to-all life, we need to reflect on our e-presence.
What is safe internet? If you are thinking it is about watching prohibited material, then it forms only a small section of it. Incidences of profiles being hacked and used for illegal purposes, photographs being morphed, extortions being carried out, bullying leading to suicides have risen with the rise in penetration of internet to nook and corners of the world. These incidences, which could baffle you and appear foolhardy of the people affected while reading in the morning newspaper, might cause great distress if happens to you or someone you care for.
School going children form a very vulnerable section which could fall prey to unsafe internet. The joy of discovering newer features of this technology, and scant regard for the advisories leads them to a world where bullying in various forms takes place. Innocuous comments on looks, weight, etc., can cause extreme distress to the innocent mind. It could scar them like no other. It is thus imperative for parents to handle internet usage of young children carefully. A total ban and total freedom can be disastrous. Gloating over how tech-savvy their children are is often observed. It must be dealt with caution. It must be borne in mind that children affected by cyber bullying needing psychological counseling is on a steep rise.
Adults are no less vulnerable to cyber bullying. Engaging with thousands of unknown people on internet carries the advantages of being connected yet being exposed to all their likes and dislikes, which could take a toll on ones emotions. All it takes is one click to lead you into a spiral of unwanted time on the internet. Your professional and personal life all stands liable to be commented upon and critically. Religious beliefs are liable to be challenged, slanderous and defamatory comments made, your views refuted and abused, and all of it without you realising could seep into your personal lives, making you irritable, defensive, aggresive, introvert or harbour any such radical behaviour.
The older people who have been brought to this world of internet only possibly a few years back might find it strange to deal with unsafe internet. A lack of knowledge of filters and ‘settings’ which are hidden in the fine print, often causes unhindered access for others which can be misutilized. It is imperative for the younger generation to themselves b aware of the possibilities of falling prey to many such traps and make their parents and elderly aware of the same.
Banking and financial fraud is on a rise and is attributed to unsafe internet practices. Search strings used unwisely leading to pronography or other unwanted material is common. Social networking leading to defamatory content is increasingly happening. It is time parents educate their children and themselves. It is time we read the fine print to safety-nets available. It is time we prepare ourselves to deal with an unsafe internet world out there. We all need to be smart and alert in using intenet if we wish for a peaceful and meaningful interaction.