Blog: Digital Safety

Digital Wellbeing is loosely defined as the impact of technologies and digital services on people’s mental, physical, social and emotional health. It is also about empowering and build capability in users so that all who engage with them are equipped to do so in a way that supports and/or improves their wellbeing.

Digital wellbeing is a topic I’ve touched on a few times.  Today I want to talk about digital safety.  Being safe online and knowing about security settings is well worth your time. On the general rule of once it is out there, it can be near impossible to delete, there can be major consequences of not considering digital safety.

Social media can have many positives, including staying in touch with people – something I can say has been (mostly) beneficial during the pandemic. But there are safety concerns and considerations around social media. Have you ever considered the people on your friends lists? You knew them at school, so you added them – but perhaps you have not actually seen them for years (or even decades in my case). Do you really know that person? It is worth reviewing your friends and follow lists just to be sure you are content with who can be in your digital life.

It is also worth reviewing the details you share.  Do you put your job or your phone number on there? If yes, who can actually see it?  There are plenty of settings you can use to restrict information to those who you trust.  Some platforms also allow you to set different groups of people who can see different levels of information.

So why the lecture on digital safety you may wonder? Well, concerns and stress around content posted online is a growing cause of stress, anxiety and depression.  Cyber bullying, trolling and hateful posts, comments or pictures are massively on the rise. Arming yourself online utilising settings, common sense and regular reviews can help to defend yourself against the negative sides of our digital lives.

I am no stranger to these concerns.  I’ve urgently had to change my mobile number this week.  There are people who come and go in our lives.  Some quite naturally drift away, and there is no ill will.  Sometimes people become toxic and you need to cut them off.  Sadly for me I’ve been “dealing with” people form the latter.  Even your phone, messaging apps and the number itself are things to consider. Who can actually contact me?

There are plenty of ways to protect interactions on your phone through blocking, but ultimately there seems to be ways around it. The recent incident has prompted me to think a lot about digital safety and the way I interact online.  I’ve got a new phone number and a new messaging app account.  I feel a lot safer now, and will be very cautious about who receives the new number.

Whilst I do not want to go into specifics of this incident, I thought it was worth writing about as this is an important topic to consider. It also goes for those who maybe in our ‘digital care’.  My Mum is not tech savvy, so I have a responsibility for her digital safety too – something I am going to talk to her about when she is back from holiday. You might have kids with phones, social media or more. Might be worth a talk about digital safety.

Have a great day, and stay safe.

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