Internet Reality Check

We hear a lot of scary news about the internet so as it’s only going to become more and more part of everyday living, we need to be realistic about the risks.

The Internet itself is not a bad thing or a good thing. It’s just a piece of technology and, like any technology, whether it does good or bad depends on who’s using it. Cars can take us on wonderful road trips or hurt and kill. Nuclear radiation can kill or heal. And the same technology that created the movies ‘Casablanca’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings’ also gave us ‘Monster-a-Go-Go’ and ‘The Hottie and the Nottie’.

It’s really all about who’s using the technology and, unfortunately, there are always some people who want to use technology to do bad things.

But these bad people aren’t just online. When you go on vacation, you take precautions; along with arranging for feeding pets and watering plants, you might stop your mail or have a friend collect it, get someone to mow the lawn or come by and turn on some lights.

And while you’re on vacation, you wouldn’t update your Facebook page to tell the world what a great time you’re having – and that your home is empty – would you?

But many people do this and plenty of other things that expose themselves to online risks unnecessarily.

In the real world, we take steps to protect ourselves; we wear seat belts, don’t pick fights with bikers, don’t leave children with strangers and many more to keep ourselves and our families safe.

It’s the same online. When you visit a website, think of it as visiting a new place in the real world; until you know the area be cautious about where you go, who you talk to and what you say.

The Internet has so much to offer that it would be a shame to miss out on it when you really don’t have to.

The information that’s available online is endless; whether you’re looking for driving directions, long-lost friends, new customers, a building permit, videos of talking dogs, clips from a favourite ‘80s TV show, a university seminar on thermodynamics or a dream job, you can find it online.

And the number of online tools is increasing as well. You can run your own business, share photos and then talk about them over a video phone call with people anywhere in the world, see photos of a destination before you even get there,  create your own music, run your own radio station or share your thoughts with the world, all for free. That’s right; free. No money needed. Zip. Zilch.

There’s just too much to miss out on and there’s more coming. Just four years ago, no one had heard of Twitter or Foursquare and now millions of people around the world use them every day. Who knows what’s next?

Take a few precautions when you’re online, just like you do every day in the real world.  I promise, it’ll be worth it.


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