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Visions Journal

Stay Safe and Healthy Online

Visions staff

Reprinted from the Growing Up In a Digital World issue of Visions Journal, 2023, 18 (1), p. 20

Keep your accounts secure

Use a reputable password manager. Long random passwords with a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and characters are safest but hard to remember. A password manager does the hard work for you.

  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Don’t use the same password or a similar password for every account. It means thieves only have to guess one password to access everything.
  • Don’t use words or numbers that can be easily guessed through your social media, like your school, favourite sports team, or birthday.

Take control of your online life

  • Assume that nothing online is private and anonymous, even if you think you’re in a private and anonymous space. Anything you post online can be archived and shared with people you don’t know. Think before you post: would you be okay if someone took a screenshot or archive?
  • Read through privacy settings and think carefully about what is best for you.
  • Regularly look at your old posts, photos, or videos and delete anything you no longer want on your account. You can also untag yourself if someone else tags you.
  • Delete or deactivate old accounts you no longer use.
  • Use block features if someone starts to bother you or ask you for things. You don’t owe strangers anything and no one has the right to ask you for personal information, photos, or videos.

Show care for others

  • Since social media accounts can be found by anyone, think twice about posting hurtful content. Sharing hateful posts, talking badly about others, and complaining about your boss can come back to hurt you.
  • Cyberbullying is still bullying and people behind usernames are still humans with feelings. Using apps or sites to stalk, threaten, harass, or just plain bully someone else just because you can do it somewhat anonymously is a sign that you need to step away from those platforms and take care of yourself.
  • Humour that relies on stereotypes, misinformation, and prejudice is not funny. These so-called "jokes" can be tactics used to make you more comfortable with content that doesn't fit your personal beliefs or values. Be critical of the media you consume.
  • If someone sends you private information or photos, do not share these with anyone else.

Take care of yourself

Time online needs to be in balance with the rest of your life. That balance looks different for everyone, but it should include:

  • Spending time with friends and family offline.
  • Moving your body every day.
  • Taking time for healthy meals.
  • Putting screens away at night so you get a good night’s sleep.

If you have a hard time disconnecting, it’s a good idea to talk to your school counsellor or a parent. Foundry BC is another great resource for people ages 12-24:

Crime happens online

  • Be careful about who you share photos or private information with. Someone else may gain access to these and threaten to show others if you don’t do what they ask (like send explicit photos/videos or money). In some cases, the person committing a crime pretends to be your friend and encourages you to take explicit or embarrassing phots or videos. In other cases, they use content you think you’ve sent to someone like a match on a dating app.
  • Don't share your banking information. Criminals can send emails or messages that look legitimate asking you to provide personal information. They can then use that information to access bank accounts or other important things. Places like banks will never ask for your account information and passwords.

If you think you’ve experienced a crime, tell an adult and call your police non-emergency number.

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