A seminar was conducted by the sixth form last Tuesday, February 11th commenced by Nasim (13A), who shed light on the fact that the 11th is celebrated as Internet Safety Day, and emphasized the need to recognize our rights and responsibilities as citizen of the virtual world just as we do in the physical world. During the course of the hour-and-a-half long session, numerous topics, many of which we were previously oblivious of, were covered. Moreover, the session was made all the more interactive by having the audience fill out an online form and quiz after signing in. To our surprise, we discovered that out of at least 30 students that were present at any given moment of time, only one scored a prestigious five on five. The questions were case studies, which were seemingly easy, but due to the lack of sufficient knowledge of internet safety policies, many of us couldn’t nail the quiz.
Following that, Ma’az (13A) introduced several new topics such as digital footprints, identity thefts due to phishing and pharming scams and e-portfolios. We also came to realize that though our time is divided between two very different worlds- the virtual and the real one, which are visibly disjointed by a broad line, our actions can translate from one universe to the other. This can be particularly catastrophic if the person handling your account is a ‘creep’ – as humorously put by Ali (12C) – and intends to devastate your future and social life. To our horror, we also learned that our personal data is irretrievably stored with the social networking sites and a simple, meagre security breach is all it takes for our entire lives to be published on Google, and become accessible to internet users all over the globe.
Omar (12A) then went on to discuss the nine elements of digital citizenship, many of which we were aware of, but never bothered to follow. Soon after, Ali discussed the hazards associated with free public Wi-Fi that we open-heartedly and gratefully accept, and how naïve our computers can be in potentially identifying the unsafe ones.
The final section, and the most interesting, in my opinion, was conducted by Samiya (12B), who initiated the discussion on cyberbullying on a Padlet wall. The fact that it was almost completely filled in a matter of minutes proved that though it is not acknowledged by many, cyberbullying has has become ubiquitous due to the anonymity provided by sites such as ask.fm.
One pivotal point of realization during the whole session was when we came to know that in all our online arguments and fights, we could inadvertently be the bullies.
Nevertheless, the whole event was undoubtedly an eye-opener, with students learning several innovative ways to utilize our freedom on the internet positively, and how to stay secure in a scam-ridden, booby-trapped cybernetic world, drenched with malware and pop-up ads.
The most controversial moments would’ve probably been when we were told that the plain-looking sign up page we signed into at the beginning of the session was a counterfeit one, and that all of our Facebook or Gmail username/email-password combinations were with the page owners… the session’s organizers. I agree that it was gullible of us to fall into such an evident trap, but we did have our uncertainties when we saw how particularly distinct this sign-up page was.