It’s Safer Internet Day on Tuesday the 6th Feb, and that means people around the world are getting vocal about the need for a more respectful internet. That means respecting ourselves and of course respecting others. Sounds simple enough. But the nuances of a connected world mean that many things are not always straight forward when it comes to our online interactions. We have emotions that lead us to say things we may regret. We have miscommunication. We have many people coming together from vastly different backgrounds, circumstances and beliefs. Whilst this can be a great thing, it can also lead to tension, misunderstanding and frustration when their worlds collide online. We also have a world that has an audience we don’t always intend to bear witness to our updates, and an ease of sharing information, content, images and video that can lead to all sorts of dramas.
So this murky, magnified, visible and connected world requires much more thought when it comes to communicating online.
Here are some things I have been doing …some well and some not as well. But they are all things which I will continue to work toward and certainly encourage my own kids and the students I work with, to do the same.
- I will be respectful of others opinions even if I disagree. Any opposing viewpoints will stick to the topic and never get personal.
- I will remember that there are many nuances to a connected world and communication that is not verbal, with no facial expressions or tone of voice can sometimes result in mixed messages where meanings may not be entirely clear.
- When certain people say things that are deemed bullying, judgemental or derogatory I will continue to remind myself that they are the ones who are suffering .
- I will continue to call out bullying behaviour that I see other people exposed to.
- I will teach my kids the importance of upstanding and speaking out for their mates.
- I will teach my kids to reach out to an adult if something makes them feel uncomfortable online.
- I will continue to be open and honest, to try and remain relevant to my kids world so they feel comfortable to come to me should things go wrong.
- I will continue to do my best to view this world through the eyes of my children. To remind myself that it is the only world they have ever known.
- I will continue to help my children make their own boundaries around friendships and online behaviours. They do not have to be at the beck and call of answering texts or responding to messages, but rather can do so in their own time under their own terms.
- I will take a breath, walk away and sleep on it if something or someone makes me mad, sad or angry online. Responding in the heat of the moment never ends well for anyone.
There are many many ways we can change behaviours to work toward a safer and more respectful internet. Let’s start with Safer Internet Day, but let’s be committed to making it happen every day thereafter.
Also be sure to check out all the great things the Office of the eSafety Commissioner is doing to help promote Safer Internet Day 2018.