New article - Keeping yourself and your family safe online
Our latest article has been published in the Chiswick Herald, click here to visit the site or read below:
Keeping yourself and your family safe in a world of online communication
It is becoming clear that whilst the legal landscape is changing to try and keep up with the online communication revolution, ultimately our safety is dependant upon our own abilities to decide on the most skilful way to use new technology.
In this article Nicholas Rose suggests some information sources that provide valuable information about safe use of the internet and social media but also suggests how to most skilfully use them.
The wonder and the horror of online communication is its scale, immediacy and permanence. There is such a vast world of people and issues available online that we can engage with instantly however any mistakes are recorded and once information is out it can be impossible to retrieve it. What we do and say has consequences and so we have to develop skills and experience to ensure that we minimise the risks of being misunderstood and maximise our understanding of the things and the people with whom we engage.
It is obvious that new technology is providing new ways for criminals to steal, abuse and violate and an excellent website giving detailed information on security and safety is www.getsafeonline.org however here I want to look at how we can judge what is going to be the most skilful use of technology for us individually. And when I say skilful I mean how we ensure it is harnessed for positive benefit, enabling us to engage with subjects and people who can enrich our lives and how to avoid those that might be to our detriment.
So when I am talking about safety it is not just about physical, financial and psychological safety its about protecting our full potential. If you are parents then again there is lots of great information, even by age range on the above website but your children will still benefit from you teaching them how to be skilful in their use!
We live in a world where lives can be ruined by a seemingly simple mistake and so often we hear people being accused of “poor judgement” and this can have a devastating impact on someones life. Ultimately it is poor judgement that leads to us making mistakes, of course mistakes can happen but given the power of social media and technology what can we do to avoid them as much as possible?
- Boring as it might be do the research and read up on what best practice is for protecting yourself online.
- Think about your strengths and weaknesses in life - finances, relationships, health, parenting and then think about the benefits social media and technology can offer but also identify areas where you might be more vulnerable.
- Think about the experience of communicating and engaging with information and people and how this varies across situations and media.
- So what is it like for you to be with family, friends, colleagues in face to face situations - how does it vary and why?
- What is your preferred way of communicating in different situations and with different people and why? Face to face, telephone, text, facetime/skype, email, social media….
- So with whom and in what situations do you feel most at ease and in which do you feel least at ease?
- Can you now identify the people and situations in which you may struggle to communicate and those where you will find it easiest?
In guidance I have read it often says to notice how you feel and think in response to content or communications to see if they bring up any negative feelings or thoughts. The intention here is to encourage people to listen to the very good warning systems that we have but can so often dismiss. However, I also suggest looking out for very positive feelings or thoughts - whether we are nervous or excited such feelings can influence our actions and awareness of these feelings can be used as a signal that we may benefit from exercising some caution. Look out for your reactions both positive and negative and when you are aware of them consider the following:
Think about how you are feeling and ask yourself whether those feelings appear logical given the context. If you have no feelings or very strong feelings either positive or negative then try and take a step back before offering any information or entering into any further communication; try asking yourself:
- In what way is this material / content / communication triggering these feelings - what assumptions am I making and what are the other possibilities?
- What do I want to do or say now and what might the consequences be?
- If I put myself in the other persons place how might they interpret what I do or say right now and what might result?
- What am I wanting from this situation and what if I don’t get what I want?
- Am I feeling under any pressure here and what is the source of this?
- Thinking about past situations are any similar - do I have a pattern of behaviour that can be unhelpful and is this an opportunity to change it?
If as a result of this reflection you are left with any sense of doubt or dilemma then think about taking a step back to give yourself more time. Consider doing something else and going back to it later or ask someone else for their views.