“Always look to your right and to your left before crossing the street. Use the pedestrian crossing. Pay attention to cars! Remember your safety belt! Stop at the red light, wait until it changes to green. Now it’s safe to go. “
Does this sound familiar? You’ve probably been told this since you were little by your parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, nursery nurses and later by your teachers during class. You’ve been practicing the skills necessary to move about safely in traffic for so long that adults have been sure that you’ll be able to manage.
Take a moment before you click. Do your own research, discover the truth. Be appropriately critical and careful about what you meet in the media. Tell an adult if you encounter something strange, confusing or questionable. Treat others with respect. Ask for advice when needed. There are many rules and common agreements also regarding the use of the digital media. These rules exist to ensure that everyone has safe and positive media experiences daily. On this website you’ll be able to find current and up to date information about matters related to online safety. Let’s navigate the online roads safely together!
Maximize the benefits, minimize the risks
It’s important that we respect the rules and common agreements while in the traffic. By doing so, we can ensure everyone’s safety, despite age and size. This also applies for the internet, social media and in games. Through common rules and agreements, we can make sure that everyone can use digital medias in a safe manner. Safe media use allows us to enjoy and benefit from all the opportunities offered to us by the media.
Anyone can encounter harmful content or fall prey to fraud, theft, bullying, grooming, hate speech, violence or other crimes while navigating the digital media. Information, consideration, and level-headed actions become vital in uncertain situations. The safe use of digital media demands the ability to recognize harmful, threatening, and high-risk situations and the understanding, knowledge, and skills to act when these are encountered.
Online road safety traffic light model
By using the traffic light model, you can make reflections by yourself and tell an adult what things in the use of digital medias bring you joy, benefits and opportunities and what are some things that are better to avoid or something you wish would change. It is the adult’s responsibility to support and assist you while you practice using the digital medias and learn the rules and functions related to it. Even the most seasoned media users can encounter situations where you need an adult’s advice and help. Always rely on an adult when you run into surprising, confusing, or difficult situations. In your daily life it’s good to have some common agreements and rules for your media use, which help to prevent disagreements or unexpected situations. It’s good to update your common agreements and rules whenever you feel like they’re no longer sufficient. As you continue to grow, and your media skills develop or when circumstances change it’s important to have new conversations and determine new rules and agreements.
Which things, situations, or habits in the use of digital medias are forbidden, risky, threatening or something to be avoided? Which things or situations create a negative atmosphere or could potentially cause harm?
Which things, situations, or habits in the use of digital medias could be considered and discussed on a case-by-case basis? The yellow light can also indicate that you should wait and restrain yourself and take a moment before you act.
Which things, situations, or habits in the use of digital medias bring benefits, joy, and positive feelings, are allowed and which could also be recommended to a friend?
Your privacy is worthy of being protected
Your personal information, address, school or where you engage in your hobbies, your phone number, pictures, messages, files, secrets, feelings, and thoughts are all examples of private matters. It is your right to choose who to share these with, and some private matters are such that can be shared with others.
You should, however, be cautious when doing so. Although you might be sharing your private matters and personal information only with your friends, they might still end up in the wrong hands in the worst-case scenario.
Anyone might share another person’s private and personal information inconsiderably, by accident or purposefully. The information can spread very quickly on the internet and in digital environments and deleting them from the web can be difficult.
- You should not share your passwords with anyone, not even you best friend.
- Consider talking about personal topics with your friends face-to-face. Face-to-face conversations leave no trace.
- You should not share your location with everyone. You wouldn’t tell a stranger passing you by on the street where you’re going.
- Should you have a public or private profile on social media? A public profile reveals a lot of your information and makes it possible for strangers to contact you.
- Remember to also protect the privacy of others. Always ask your friends for permission before sharing a picture or video. A good principle to follow is to never share content that you would be embarrassed about or want to hide. The content you share should not violate anybody else’s rights either.
- Don’t tag others in content without their permission.
- Don’t share other’s messages or screenshots of their messages without permission.
- Don’t look at or listen to other’s messages without permission.
Protect your passwords
Passwords exist in order to ensure that your information remains under your control and that no one else can pretend to be you.
By knowing your password, another person can willingly access information and content that you keep hidden behind it, log in to your accounts on different websites, publish information or pretend to be you. Your password can also be used to control your devices or control personal content, for example to read, send or delete your messages.
- A good password is easy to remember but difficult to guess. You can write down your password, but make sure to keep it in a safe place so that no one else can find it.
- A complete sentence is a good password.
- The longer the password, the safer it is.
- Remember to include capital letters and special signs.
- One way to strengthen your password is to include spelling errors, dialect, or slang words.
- Make sure that no one can see you when you type in your password.
- You should have a unique password for each platform, don’t reuse the same one.
- Put special care into the passwords for accounts which you use to recover forgotten passwords, such as that of your e-mail.
- Never tell anyone your passwords, not even your best friend! Remember that not even the authorities would ask you this information.
- When you’re done using a service, remember to always log out. This is especially important when you’re using a service while on someone else’s device, for example at school or at the library.
Protect your device
Various malwares have been designed to pollute devices and disrupt their functions.
Some examples of malwares:
- “Worms” which send copies of themselves from one device to another.
- Advertisement programs which display ads that you’ve chosen not to see.
- Programs which lock a user’s information and require money in order to release it.
- Viruses which conceal themselves as parts of different programs and files while spreading copies of themselves.
- Programs which take secret screenshots when you click your mouse or touch your screen.
- Programs which give intruders access to your device
- Remote control programs which make it possible for an intruder to remotely control your device without you knowing.
- Programs which allow an intruder to control your device’s keyboard in order to send them information.
- Programs which spy on you, seeing your activity on the device and then relaying the information.
Your device could be harmed if
- There are apps which require updating.
- You open a contaminated file.
- You open an unfamiliar link.
- You use an unprotected network.
Protect yourself from malware
- Adjust your device’s settings in such a manner that your password is always required for access. Remember, a good password should not be easy to guess, and it should include many different characters, letters, and numbers.
- Take care of your device. If it disappears stay calm and tell a parent or adult right away so they can help you find it. Your device is not the only thing of value, but so are your pictures, videos, contacts, messages, and passwords. Immediately change all the passwords that you’ve used in the particular device by using a “log-out from all devices” function.
- Make a habit of always installing the latest updates to the apps which you use. Updates and various anti-virus programs help keep your device safe from malwares.
- Don’t click just any link that is sent to you, even if you know the sender. You can ask the sender if they’re aware of the message they’ve sent and it’s contents if something seems strange.
- Don’t trust something that seems too good to be true because it often is. This includes messages that promise prizes, gifts, money or for example virtual currency for a game and so on. The goal of malware programs is to catch your attention in order to trick you into opening a contaminated file, give up your log in information or connect to a corrupted website or software.
- A firewall is a program which helps to protect your device from forbidden connections online as well as defending your computer from incoming attacks halting malicious activity on the web.
- The spam folder which can be found in your e-mail account’s settings helps to block harmful messages which could contain malicious programs.
- Make sure to download applications only from trustworthy sources, such as the official application stores or from the producer’s own website. Avoid downloading pirate software which are illegal or potentially damaging. Before downloading an app, check the reviews it has received. Avoid apps which have not received reviews or comments. Remember to also make sure that the creator of the app is trustworthy, and that the app doesn’t require an unnecessary amount of rights to your device and content.
- Make sure to regularly back up your information to one or more locations.
- If you have any concerns about the protection of your device or about malwares, always ask a parent or another adult for help.
Tips for recognizing fraud online
- The language in the messages is not consistent or has spelling errors or strange words.
- Does the message include something urgent or embarrassing? Scammers often try to create a sense of urgency or embarrassment to their targets. Their messages often attempt to impact the target’s feelings in one way or another.
- Messages may also attempt to scare or pressure the target by for example mentioning a weakness known to the fraudster, such as the target’s old password, by describing the claimed malware software’s characteristics or by listing made up names of video files.
- If the message includes promises of benefits, prizes, money or some other advantage to the receiver as long as they act a certain way. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- The sender’s address is masked to look like it’s arrived from the recipient’s own e-mail address.
- If doing a Google search with the same theme reveals similar messages. Fraud attempts often repeat the same pattern.
Don’t believe everything you see and hear
When using digital medias, you’ll encounter various types of content, of which not everything is true or genuine or that should be believed. If you encounter this type of content, don’t charge into action in the way that the message encourages. The goal if this content is sometimes to purposefully lead you astray, while sometimes someone might be sharing defective or false information.
- A rumor usually involves a person or some news which is meant to cause confusion and fuss. Rumors can also be positive, but unfortunately, they are mostly meant to cause someone harm or at least some embarrassment or other negative consequences. Rumors and lies are easy to spread on social medias. Think about how it would feel to have rumors or lies spread about you. Let the inappropriate and hurtful rumors stop with you, don’t continue sharing them.
- Chain letters are messages which usually contain false information. They are usually designed to affect the recipient’s feelings, or to be felt as threatening, scary, or distressing in order to spread them to as many people as possible. Only share chain letters which create a positive feeling and atmosphere.
- Fake news include spreading information which is purposefully false or fabricated. The goal of fake news is to affect people’s thoughts, values, and actions with regards to various topics. Untrustworthy news are not necessarily always false, but they may be fabricated in order to impact certain emotions. These sorts of news often seek to cause conflict. When following the news, it’s good to pay attention to where and when it has been published, by whom, how the topic presented has been managed and what the news is based on. Sometimes the headline does not match the content.
- Deepfake videos are videos created by modifying original visual or audio material, and they can be difficult to recognize as having been fabricated. Some of these videos are harmless but they can also be used with malicious or questionable intent.
- Challenges circulating in social media can often be funny, but in the worst case, taking part in them and performing them can have severe consequences and can endanger one’s safety and health. Pay attention to these challenges and remember to not partake in dangerous ones. Challenges which bring joy, praise and a good feeling are good to partake in.