Me, thinking to myself last week: “Next week, I know what I’m writing about…Safer Internet Day, and my message to youth to be civil, kind, and respectful online.”
Hi everyone! I hope you’re all having a great start to February and a wonderful week.
Today is a very special day for Ask Trish – because it’s Safer Internet Day 2023! (Happy Safer Internet Day!) If you’re wondering, what’s Safer Internet Day?, great question. Safer Internet Day, which, here in the United States, is coordinated by one of the organizations that makes Ask Trish possible, ConnectSafely, is dedicated to raising awareness about the ways that society (and especially youth!) can more responsibly use technology and the Internet. It’s an annual opportunity for youth across the country to advance their digital literacy and for Internet safety and responsible tech organizations and advocates to share their insights and visions for a better Internet. It’s also a chance for everyone to reflect on how they can get involved in building and contributing to a safer Internet. (So, it’s safe to say, it’s a pretty awesome day.) To that end, as I’m sure you can imagine, I’m a big fan of Safer Internet Day! Why? Well, not only is it a day dedicated to critically thinking about our Internet – something that, as y’all know, is totally my jam – but as part of the day, ConnectSafely actually makes amazing digital literacy educational resources available to everyone for free.
Which brings me to…how you can get involved this year. I often find that youth aren’t 100% sure how they can tangibly participate in Safer Internet Day. The #1 way you can be a part of Safer Internet Day is to honestly use this opportunity to learn and reflect on the Internet. And thanks to ConnectSafely and those resources, you can do that in a super engaging, fun way. ConnectSafely’s resources actually include really interesting videos with amazing folks, including yours truly! So I want to encourage you all to take advantage of the resources – and as a challenge, check out one of the lessons here.
As I just mentioned, once again, this year, I had the opportunity to be a part of ConnectSafely’s Safer Internet Day resources. What was my message to youth on Safer Internet Day? In my video – which you can watch here – I get into the ins and outs of being civil online. Young people are often told that they should be kind and civil online, but we’re rarely told how. And it’s a question that’s important to ask, because engaging with others in a way that is civil, while maintaining healthy boundaries and ensuring that your voice is heard can be a really tricky tightrope to walk. It can be hard to know what the “right thing” is. In my just 5-minute video, I try to break it all down and offer some simple, hopefully resonant advice. I won’t re-summarize it for you all here – instead, you should really go watch it! – but if I had to briefly share three key takeaways, they’d be:
- Put yourself in the shoes of the folks you communicate with online. This means considering their point of view – where might they be coming from? On the other hand, how might they interpret something that you say? Keeping this context in mind can be a powerful guide to deciding what you want to say and navigating what you see online.
- Harm is never okay. While keeping things in perspective is a good idea, if a digital interaction makes you feel unsafe or is physically or mentally harmful, know that that is not okay. Disengage, and use the tools at your disposal, including potentially soliciting or seeking help, to tackle the situation. No one deserves to be cyberbullied or harmed online.
- Create digital distance and digital boundaries. Remember, you don’t have to follow every person, and you don’t have to accept every digital follow request. Create the best environment for your digital interactions by setting helpful boundaries. Don’t feel bad about doing this – we do this in-person, and it’s totally acceptable to do online.
Go watch the whole video to learn about these takeaways! And then check out the other videos, for more sage knowledge and advice.
I hope you enjoyed learning about #SID2023, and that you find my tips on digital civility empowering and helpful (again, go watch the video!). I’ve got one last request for you on Safer Internet Day – if, after watching my video, or completing a Safer Internet Day lesson, an Internet-related question or thought pops up, don’t hesitate to share it here. Your topic just might be featured in next week’s TikTok/blog post! For those folks who are new to Ask Trish, remember: whatever is on your mind is totally okay. Whether serious, funny, or a simple curiosity, I love hearing from you all and am always excited to be able to share some hopefully helpful advice and all of my support.
Have a great week,