Imperilment on the Internet

By: Arna M.

As children of the 21st century, we have grown up in the era of computers, video games, and the Internet. In the past, whilst discovering a whole new world of technology, we were constantly reminded to stay safe on the Internet and not talk to strangers. When did we begin to ignore that caution? When did safety on the Internet become an unnecessary precaution?

Back in the day, kids given the privilege of using the Internet would never dream of speaking to strangers online, let alone make friends. Yet, nowadays it has become the main motive for people to log on and go online. You “follow” people you’ve never seen in real life, “like” their posts, and possibly message them without hesitation. When did this become a norm?

It’s a scary thought not completely realized by the public due to the cyber wall between the contacts during any interaction. The danger of sharing information with a complete stranger is neglected, even though it can happen to anyone unknowingly.

One can never be completely sure of the person on the other line’s true identity. You’ve heard the stereotype. Your new “friend” may claim to be a 15-year-old girl who lives across the country, but in reality is a 40-year-old unemployed man in your town. In any case, if the person’s online identity is a lie, sharing information with them becomes extremely dangerous.

You might have heard the term “catfish” before. A catfish is someone who takes on a false online identity to lure its victim into a relationship, romantic or friendly. It is online harassment taken to a gross extent, depending on the victim’s trust and willingness to share personal information. A catfish can be anyone. They can be a former lover, a bully, a stranger, or even your close friend. Their motives can be anything ranging from bullying, financial fraud, or even desiring to track his/her victim down in real life.

Parents and children are usually aware of the existence of such threats on the Internet, but fail to make it a vital topic of discussion in the household. As a consequence, children on the Internet are becoming more and more vulnerable to such manipulations as the topic is constantly ignored.

Don’t share your personal information with anyone who you don’t know personally. Remind your friends to do so too. Everyone should take the necessary precautions on the Internet to stay safe, because you never know who’s on the other side of the screen. The bottom line is, the Internet has not become safer over the years; Internet safety has only become a topic less talked about. There still exists an endless amount of dangers on the Internet who may appear to you in the shape of a new “friend.”

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