By Nadja Linke
Every morning we roll out of bed to get ready for the day. But before you face the day, what is the first thing you will reach for? Hand on heart, it’s your smartphone.
Browsing online and checking up on your social media accounts has become a daily habit for Cambodians and many people around the world. In fact, according to the 2017 Media Index Report, Cambodians between the age of 15 and 30 years, spend almost 4.5 hours per day online. From 2017 to 2019, the number of Facebook users has doubled to 6.8 million people. Half of which are young people between 13 to 24 years old. Facebook remains the most popular social media platform in Cambodia followed by Instagram and YouTube.
The reasons why we are hooked to internet are endless: entertainment, seeking job opportunities, staying connected with family and friends, get informed, playing games and sometimes just watching cute animal faces.
But despite all its possibilities, the internet also bears some risks for users. To make sure you always stay safe online, here are five useful tips to keep in mind before you go online.
1. Think before you post!
I know – it’s tempting. You just experienced something really great, so naturally you want to share your happiness with the whole world. But before you click on the “post” button, take a second and think about who will be able to see the information you are about to share.
Imagine you meet somebody for the first time, would you tell them everything about you? Probably not. Before you create a post, just ask yourself how comfortable you feel about sharing private information with complete strangers?
Remember, once you post something, you have little control on what people will do with it. Even a friend could screenshot and share something you didn’t intend to share more widely. Some might download your content and edit it to their liking and put your message in a completely different context which you strongly disapprove of.
2. Keep it private
Although, in some cases submitting your personal data is mandatory to sign up an online account, refrain from sharing personal information like your address, phone number or any other personal information with other users online! Not everyone treats your data in a respectful way.
Just ask yourself if you would invite someone to your house, who you’ve never met before?
Make use of the privacy setting by enabling the private mode on all your accounts. This way you have more control over who can see your profile and the content you post.
|© UNICEF Cambodia/2017/Bunly Meas|
3. Stranger danger
It’s great to meet new people and stay connected with them through social media. But sometimes you will receive messages or friendship requests from people you have never met.
Before you accept someone as a friend or answer to their message, think twice if you really want to let this person into your life. Remember – they will be able to see all the things you post and many details about your life.
On the internet, people are not always who they say they are. If someone you don’t know from your school or community asks to meet you in person, tell your parents or a trusted adult about this person. Meeting people you have met online in real life can be very dangerous.
4. Stop Bullying
With the internet becoming more and more popular, cyber-bullying has increased. Every day, one in five girls and one out of ten boys are cyberbullied.
Cyberbullying involves posting or sending messages, pictures or videos with the intention to harass, threaten or spread rumors about a person through various digital platforms such as online social networks, chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging and text messaging.
Victims of cyberbullying often experience low self-esteem, mental health issues, and extreme situations even lead to suicide.
If you are a victim of cyberbullying, don’t respond to your bully! Find a trusted adult and tell them what happened, together you can find a solution. You can also call the Child Helpline Cambodia. They provide free 24 hours counseling and treat all your information confidential. Just dial 1280 and you will be transferred to a counselor.
Don’t be ashamed to share your feelings, you’re doing the right thing. You have a right to feel safe. Talking about your experience is an important step to put an end to bullying!
You can also play a big part to stop bullying online.
When you browse the internet, or scroll through your feed, you will most likely see opinions that differ from your own. Keep in mind that every person is entitled to their own opinion. Don’t criticize people for their views or the way they look.
Put yourself into their shoes and ask yourself how you would feel if someone called you out online. In case you strongly disagree with someone, give them constructive feedback in a respectful manner, instead of just telling them what you disapprove of. You’re better than that.
A better internet starts with you!
5. Report suspicious actions
Should you ever feel unsafe or see something you don’t feel comfortable with when you’re online, close the website and speak with a trusted adult.
Together, you can take steps to prevent others from experiencing the same by reporting a person or a website. Most social media platforms have the option to file a report against inappropriate content. If a specific person harasses you, you can usually block them. This way, they won’t be able to look at your profile or send you private messages.
Follow these five tips and stay safe online!
For more information on Online safety, visit the global UNICEF website on Online Safety.