9th of February 2021 marks Safer Internet Day, which is an excellent opportunity for carers to have a discussion with their loved ones about being safe online !
The internet can do wonders for your loved one’s mental well-being. This is particularly true in these increasingly isolating times. Safe internet use can combat loneliness, as it can help even those who are shielding stay connected to their families and friends. Using the internet safely can also provide entertainment and mood-boosting content.
However, the internet also can pose a threat to your loved ones’ financial security and mental well-being. This sounds really concerning, but don’t panic! Here are some ways to help your loved one stay safe online.
How carers can ensure their loved ones are safe on the internet:
As a carer, your loved one being on the internet unsupervised can be a source of stress or worry. They may not be used to using the internet and prone to clicking on pop-ups or scams. With the right communication and knowledge, this stress can lessen and your loved one can be safe online.
Carers should be mindful of scams and fraud operations.
There are countless scams circulating the internet; truly too many to mention. These can include:
1. Email scams or “Phishing”.
2. Dating scams (does the phrase ‘singles in your area’ sound familiar? That’s an example of a dating scam pop-up).
3. Online shopping scams.
4. Competition scams.
5. Many, many more.
It is good practice to tell your loved one that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. On the internet at least. Ensure they are aware to not click on any unfamiliar attachments on their emails. They should also never give out any personal information via email.
As their carer, you should also look to install a reputable anti-virus and security software on your loved one’s devices. It is also important to make sure their WiFi connection is secured with a good password.
Ensure your loved one knows not to click on any pop-ups to avoid getting viruses. They should also only use websites that start with ‘https’ rather than ‘http’. This is because ‘https’ signals a secure website.
There are internet gateways that allow your loved ones to safely surf the internet.
The internet is so entertaining- it is truly a shame to miss out. If you’re concerned about what sort of content your loved one may encounter, maybe consider an internet gateway platform.
Web of the Week allows your loved one to safely access uplifting and interesting content. Every Sunday, ten uplifting things to watch or do are uploaded to the page- go check them out!
False information can be a source of anxiety and distress.
A lot of fake news and conspiracy theories circulate on the internet. It is a good idea to encourage critical thinking with your loved one, as it is very easy to take things at face value. You should consider the motives behind what you’re reading. In addition, you should fact-check on and off-line before acting on anything you read. Communication is key.
Carers should discuss false information with their loved one. It’s a good idea to advise them to take anything they see online with a pinch of salt.
It also may be worth using a fact-checking organisation like fullfact.org, where misleading information is debunked.
Carers should have open conversations with their loved ones about using the internet
It is important to be open with your loved one about how they use the internet. This can be done by reserving judgement and answering any questions they have with patience.
The UK Safer Internet Centre have compiled some great internet safety resources. Their guidance includes conversation starters and good topics to cover.