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Safer Internet Day 2022 – Exploring respect and relationships online

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Today is Safer Internet Day. How safe do you think you are online right now? Even seasoned journalists, celebrities and famous personalities aren’t spared.

Fraud and phishing

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s daughter was duped of Rs. 34,000 on February 7 while she was selling a second-hand sofa online. The person, who posted himself as a customer, asked her to scan a bar code after sending a small amount on her account. And when she scanned the bar code, the money debited from her account in two installments: first Rs. 20,000 and then Rs. 14,000, the Delhi police had said.
Former NDTV journalist Nidhi Razdan had been the target of a “very serious phishing attack” and had learnt that what she believed was an offer to teach at Harvard University was fake. Razdan had quit NDTV last year after a 21-year stint to take up the offer. In her statement on Twitter, Razdan said she had been given to believe that she would be joining Harvard in September but while she was preparing for her new job, she was told because of the pandemic, classes would begin in January. She said she sensed something amiss in the delays and noted what she called “administrative anomalies” in the process described to her.

Crypto scams

In January, India’s Enforcement Directorate conducted several raids as part of an investigation into a massive crypto scam that involved a fake crypto called Morris coin that was floated to dupe millions of investors in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka of a whopping Rs. 1,200 crore. In December 2021, the official Twitter handle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was ‘briefly compromised’ and a message was posted declaring that India has accepted crypto as legal tender.
Stealing cryptos from wallets through phishing or tricking people into spending on unknown or fake cryptos such as Morris coin are some of the ways in which crypto owners and investors have been targeted by scammers and hackers recently.

What is Safer Internet Day?

Over the years, Safer Internet Day has become a landmark event in the online safety calendar. Starting as an initiative of the EU SafeBorders project in 2004 and taken up by the Insafe network as one of its earliest actions in 2005, Safer Internet Day has grown beyond its traditional geographic zone and is now celebrated in approximately 200 countries and territories worldwide.
From cyberbullying to social networking to digital identity, each year Safer Internet Day aims to raise awareness of emerging online issues and current concerns.

What is the theme for 2022?

Safer Internet Day 2022 will be celebrated with the theme: ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online.’
Speaking with young people is key to exploring their experiences on platforms where they can play games, interact with their peers and others, and take part in ‘live’ experiences such as video streaming. These platforms play such an important and positive role, providing young people with the means to interact with friends and as a great pastime, particularly during lockdowns.
However, there are some emerging safety issues in these spaces as well as issues young people have been navigating for some time; particularly the lack of respect individuals display towards each other, groups ‘ganging up’ against other groups, and the sense that it is easy to ‘get away’ with negative behaviour such as meanness, bullying and swearing. They speak about hate directed at particular groups, particularly LGBT+ users, and misogyny on gaming platforms. They tell us the apparent lack of consequences for negative behaviour has an impact on their safety and wellbeing.

Expert take

Says Bhumi Pabari, Psychologist, Mpower, “As one cannot expect reciprocation from statues, similarly one cannot expect true respect or relationships from the virtual world. It is important for individuals to understand that though the world of the internet is a great revolution, it is like standing on a double-edged sword. If we know the right use, it can create wonders but if misused then it can be disastrous. As a psychologist I counsel hundreds of youth who pretend to be happy on internet in front of thousands of online friends and followers but in reality they are very lonely.”
“We cannot fulfil our real emotional needs by virtual substitutes and this is what is happening where the youth is looking out for support from the virtual world by making multiple friends on internet whom they have never met and every individual trying to portray an image of theirs by wearing multiple masks ultimately leading to a strong feeling of loneliness by losing their real self. Eventually, it has a deep impact on their mental health wellbeing hence if the youth is encouraged to invest in understanding oneself first and work on developing true honest relationships then it will lead to emotional stability,” she adds.
Says Aachal Jain, Pastoral Care Coordinator, Aditya Birla World Academy, “Today’s youth need to take 2X care about the ‘digital image’ that they are creating. Thus, being mindful when engaging in social interactions virtually is important.” She says that for youth to navigate social relationships online, it is important that they THINK before posting anything online:
T – Is this true?
H – Is this helpful?
I – Is this inspiring?
N – Is this necessary?
K – Is this kind?
Jain adds, “It is important for families to take effort in understanding the digital social world of their child just like they do in the physical world. Conversations at home about been responsible digital citizen is essential. Parents should take efforts to understand and learn the digital tools that are popular among the youth.”
We need to address these issues so that all young people understand what constitutes respectful behaviour online, and know what to do if they encounter hate or bullying directed at them or someone else.