How to Be Safe Online: Tips From Young People
Adolescents from Gyumri answer the most frequently asked questions about how to be safe on the Internet
As the world marks the Safe Internet Day on 9 February every year, UNICEF in Armenia partners with various professionals to inform and raise awareness among young people, children and caregivers about the dangers and benefits of being online and how to stay safe. As we collectively continue to work to make the Internet a safer place for children and young people, it’s important to be reminded of safety tips and tricks.
For UNICEF, it is equally important to listen not only to professionals but also to young people and know first-hand what they think and how they protect themselves on the Internet. Lastly, there is ongoing debate to what extent parents should monitor their children’s content online, so we asked a group of adolescents from UNICEF programmes to hear their views. Let’s see what they have to say!
Question 1. How do you usually feel online? Do you consider the Internet to be a safe space?
“I do not feel safe, because I’m constantly shown ads from suspicious sites,” Alla, 16.
“I actually feel safe and secure, because I am quite well informed about the social networks, and my data is closed on the sites where I am registered,” Tatevik, 18.
“Not quite safe, because nowadays the Internet has become dangerous. You do not know what situation you will suddenly find yourself in. Today, cyber viruses are periodically spread, which not only damage the computer, but also target personal data,” Sashik, 14.
“I feel safe online, because I am proficient in media literacy and try to follow the general rules. My personal accounts have special protection; I follow mainly the official media, and try to avoid suspicious websites, as well as correspondence with strangers,” Emilia, 16.
“Not so safe, because I access social networks by phone, and my accounts are often public. Besides, the pages of many of my friends on social networks are not authentic,” Arthur, 17 years old
Question 2 ․ How often do you feel anxious about being online all the time?
“I usually get excited to be online, but afterwards that feeling goes away, as I realize that I have not used my time very effectively,” Rafik, 13.
“During the lockdown and the war, all of our lives were more centered around the Internet. There was an abundance of information that often caused stress and panic, however, it was impossible to stay out of it to protect yourself. Most of our daily life nowadays is spent online. That is why we have to carefully choose the content that we like and that is secure,” Emilia, 16.
Question 3․ How do you protect yourself on the Internet? Can you share one tip with us and with your friends?
“I mainly make my personal data private on social networks. I advise not to make it public to everyone. Hide or make private the important information (address, phone number, some pictures) and anything you would like to be out of the reach of strangers,” Tatevik, 18.
“I do not click on suspicious looking advertisements,” Victoria, 15.
“I do not make personal data available on social platforms and do not share it with other people, sometimes even with my friends. I use reliable official websites to search for information,” Sashik, 14.
“I do not open strange or unknown links. I use only trusted applications and I do not pay attention to messages from strangers,” Rafik, 13.
“I create long passwords on social networks and do not publish my contact information,” Harutyun, 14.
“I would advise everyone to use the Internet to learn something but also try to spend more time offline. And when online, strictly follow the rules of media literacy,” Ani, 16.
Question 4․ Should parents monitor their children's online behaviour? If you were a parent, how would you control your child's actions on the Internet?
“Yes, it is important especially during adolescence, because it is better to be safe, given the dangers of the current online games and the increase in suicide cases. If I was a parent, I would monitor my child's actions online, but also try to be discreet about it, so as not to restrict him or her,” Tatevik, 18.
“They should be careful what the child does on the Internet but they should not constantly check your phone, because it will already be a violation of the right to privacy. I would not deprive my child of the right to access the Internet, but I would give him or her advice on how to stay away from cybercriminals,” Rafik, 13.
“I believe that parents should monitor the online life of their children to protect them from dangerous things, without forgetting that the Internet is a private space. If I was a parent, I would explain to my child what not to do on the Internet, but would also stay informed about his or her personal pages and try to limit the use of suspicious websites,” Emilia, 16.
“I would hold regular conversations to explain common safety rules and possible lurking dangers,” Bagrat, 17.
“From time to time you can monitor what sites and games your child uses, I suppose, but, again, from time to time!.” Sashik, 14.
Our discussion with these young people has shown that digital literacy has helped them to stay safe online, making them aware of the risks and mitigation measures to put in place. They also recognize that parents have a responsibility to advise and guide them and that more can be done to ensure that all children and young people are aware of how to navigate safely.
Let’s continue improving our digital safety skills, and here’s our next helpful article for you - “10 simple rules that will help you be safer on the Internet.”