Safer Together

Gary Hibberd

11th February 2020

Before we all get too excited about February 14th, and Valentines Day. It’s worth remembering that 11th February is “Safer Internet Day”!

This is a day in the UK which aims to inspire a national conversation about using technology responsibly, respectfully, critically and creatively. Something which we’re always looking to do within Cyberfort.

Aimed specifically at children and young adults the initiative sees hundreds of organisations get involved.  Helping to promote the safe, responsible and positive use of digital technology for children and young people.

 

#FreeToBe

Each year the initiative has a different theme, and as stated on the Safer Internet Day website;

“This year we are exploring whether young people feel free to be themselves online. We will explore how young people manage their online identity, and how the internet shapes how they think of themselves and others. We will look at whether the internet allows young people to experiment and express themselves, or if they feel limited in who they can be online.”

 

How does this relate to business?

You may be wondering why I and Cyberfort support an initiative aimed at children and young adults.

On the face-of-it, it may seem strange that a company dedicated to Cybersecurity in business is working with schools. Firstly, Cyberfort has schools as clients too, and work in the education sector.

But importantly, people are our clients. Helping people stay safe online means helping everyone stay safe online. This isn’t some ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ (CSR) initiative for us.

Most people in business have children, and they’re rightly concerned about how the internet affects their children. So, in business meetings and presentations I give advice on how they can protect their business, their homes, and their families online. This is at the heart of what Cyberfort does too.

We help people, and we don’t care how young or old they are.  Remember that the children of today will be your employees tomorrow – so promoting safer internet use now could save you from issues in the future.

 

#FreeToBeMe

I also find it interesting that the theme this year is about being ‘free to be who you want to be’ online, and I am sure this is an issue for a lot of people, not just the young.

Mental wellbeing is extremely topical right now, and rightly so.  But a lot of issues around mental health and wellbeing are linked to our sense of who we are. This can be negatively or positively shaped by our interactions online and dictate how people think about themselves and others.  

There is no doubt that the Internet has the power to shape our opinions on every aspect of our lives, including our self-image.

 

Conversations about a safer (and healthier) online life.

Some of you may remember the days when we would ‘log off’ at the end of the day. But that doesn’t happen anymore, unless we choose to log off.  But how many of us do that?

Do we; Get home, check email. Start cooking – check social media. Chat to the partner/kids – check email etc. You know the drill. I don’t think we’re addicted to our devices, but the ‘Fear of Missing out’ (FoMo) is a very real thing.

This is why we need to promote a healthier and safer approach to our online world.

Over the last few weeks in 2020 I’ve had the opportunity to speak in schools on career panels and to entire year groups about careers in Cybersecurity and about getting healthier online.

Here are some of the questions I ask and the advice I give so they are not just safer online, but healthier too. Why not discuss these in your teams and ask yourself these questions.

Of course, feel free to pass it on, and let me know if you think I’ve missed anything critically important:

 

1)    What is best thing about being online and what’s the worst?

2)    Set yourself a challenge to reduce your online friends to real-world friends

3)    Talk to your children about the sites they visit and how they’ve set up their privacy settings.

4)    Don’t be judgemental about their use of technology – Lead by example. Put the phone down!

5)    “What would I do if someone was unkind to me online?” Ask your children and yourself.

6)    How can you be kinder online?

7)    How do you think we should deal with Cyberbullies?

8)    Who would you go to if you saw something online that upset you or made you unhappy?

9)    Are you the same person online, as the person in real life? If not, why not?

10)  Who inspires you online and why? Why not follow different people to learn different things?

 

These are just a few questions and ideas you can follow to get your teams and your people talking about their lives, online. 

I also remind people that what people share on Social media is edited highlights of their lives, so they shouldn’t compare that persons ‘movie trailer’ (i.e. the best bits) with their movie.  I think that’s something we should all try and remember.

 

Finally; This isn’t just for 11th Feb

There is an old saying which goes “What they hear at the hearth. They’ll repeat in the street.” Meaning what kids see in the home, they’ll replicate in the open. 

Children of today will be employees and business leaders of tomorrow.  We need to invest our time in helping them (and us) curate a safer and healthier approach to being online.

February 11th is a focus to raise awareness but being safe and healthy is something we should focus on each and every day.

In a world where our sense of self can be shaped by our online interactions. Safer internet day is important. But Safer and Healthier is better.

I know I’m doing my bit, and the rest of the team at Cyberfort are too.

It’s over to you. What are you doing to make the world a safer and healthier place? I’d love to hear your ideas.

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