Internet services and social media open us a whole new world in many senses. This world is filled with numerous opportunities for personal growth and education, for business and fun. But the digital dimension can be not only destructive but also formative. And we are not talking just about viruses and malware.
Some social media relations we have can be very toxic and some internet discussions may cause us to lose our peace of mind. Therefore we need some rules of “digital hygiene” to resist internet trolling, haters and cyberbullying or internet swindlers.
Young people and kids are among the most vulnerable. Previous generations usually had some socialization experience in real life before becoming internet users. And modern children learn how to socialize directly in the net, and this is where their first social experience comes from. At least 1/3 of all the teenage kids have been cyberbullied on social media and more than 2/3 faced slander and gossip being spread online about them which has very negative effect on their mental health and social skills.
Digital hygiene rules
Just like simple basic rules of physical hygiene (like wash your hands, brush your teeth, take shower regularly etc.) will help you to stay healthy and productive and to avoid many diseases, several simple rules of digital hygiene will make your digital life much healthier and productive.
Trolling vs critique
First of all, you need to distinguish trolling and hatering from real critique. We cannot see people’s faces and emotions through our screens. And sometimes what we might consider as trolling or attack on us can be just an advice but given in the unsuccessful form. So when you are not sure about true intentions of your internet vis-à-vis do not presume the worst.
Keep your house clean
Do not allow dirty talks on your Facebook page and in the comments to your posts. Some people start right away with offensive speech, rude comments and dirty jokes. You probably would not allow such a behavior in your home. Well, consider your social media page your ‘digital home’ and block internet trolls from accessing it.
Do not fight somebody’s battle
Do not break the spears in comments to somebody’s article, social media post or other content and do not let to engage you in online disputes so easily. The best way to support and promote an alternative view on anything you disagree with is to create your own content of a good quality. By doing this you will not only make your social media account or web page better and brighter but will make social media a better place in a sense.
Communicate online just like you would communicate in real life
Try to communicate with people online the same way you would communicate with them in real life. Many people consider social media and forum chats the permissiveness area because there is no big chance that the verbal conflict may grow into something greater. But even though there is almost no chance that for you would cross with your online opponent in a real life, other internet users see your comments and can make their own conclusions about you. This may cost you something in future. In our highly digital world many people can see your account profile and professional agencies can check it as well. And aggressive comments in social media can turn into a disadvantage when you try to get a position in a respected company.
Do not turn into “plastic person”
Some people’s social media accounts represent “perfect life”. Expensive cars, best resorts, Michelin three-star restaurants, selfies with celebrities, etc. They are called “plastic people”. Being very selfish, they usually would do anything to achieve their goals of wealth or personal status, including using and humiliating others. Those accounts do not look very attractive for average users but do attract internet trolls.
Do not delete questions or comments you don’t like
Usually, if you delete some of your unsuccessful comments your opponents could and probably will use it against you – since you deleted it you are hiding something. This is a very attractive bait for internet trolls especially if the topic is sensitive.
Try not to be led by your emotions and think twice before posting anything you could regret of later. You always can find adequate words to respond or discuss the sensitive issue in private.
Check the source of the information
Do not succumb to social media hysteria when people start to repost some “sensation” or fake news. Tarry extra couple minutes and Google the news to see if the content you are about to post is valid. If you cannot find the source easily wait couple hours – somebody will probably check it and share the finding.
Be aware of common scams
Protect yourself from internet swindlers and say no to requests for unusual transfers of funds (regarding deposits/first-month rent) or suspicious offers. Not responding to strange friend requests or advance-fee scams will save you not only your peace of mind but, quite possibly, some sum of money.
Protect your personal information
Protecting personal information is one of the key things why you are online. Many passwords can be easily hacked, and intruders may get access to your accounts violating your privacy and stealing your money or identity. To protect personal information when using the internet you should, avoid suspicious links and visit only reputable sites.
You should also consider using special software for safe browsing. Proper security setting of your browser and antivirus or firewall program will make your online experience pleasant and much safer. When it has to do with your children’s safety and digital hygiene, parental control solution will be very helpful.
The main issue of digital hygiene is the same as of the physical one. If we practice it regularly it will develop into a good habit that will make our digital life healthier, easier and more pleasant.