July 12, 2022
In a newly-launched series with AEA, Mastery Coding explores how students can safely navigate the online world.
Series: Amateur Esports Association Articles
This blog is one half of a blog series in celebration of our newest partnership with the Amateur Esports Association. We’ve partnered with AEA to focus on overall health and wellbeing while gaming. Read AEA’s blog, Becoming Tilt-Proof: Social and Emotional Wellbeing to learn more about managing your stress and becoming tilt-proof while gaming!
The internet is one of the most powerful tools humanity has ever had access to. With an iPad, phone, or computer in hand, we are just taps and clicks away from learning about anything we want or connecting with people around the world! But, with great power comes great responsibility. To use this tool safely and effectively, it’s critical that you know how to identify when an online interaction is risky.
Discover ten crucial tips for staying safe online:
One of the most important ways to protect yourself online is to avoid sharing private information with others. If someone you don’t know is asking you about your school, address, phone number, or any other private information, it’s best to leave the website and stop communicating with that person. If someone you do know is asking about information that’s odd for them to ask about, especially if it’s from a new account, double-check with them in person before sharing. It could be someone pretending to be your friend or teacher.
An excellent way to keep your information secure is to set up passwords that are difficult for others to guess. The stronger your passwords are, the less likely a hacker will be able to steal important information like your bank accounts, emails, and private information.
To create a safe password, avoid typing out simple words or phrases, especially ones that could be easily guessed by people that know you. Instead create passwords that have a mix of numbers, symbols, and upper and lower case letters.
If you find yourself on a website with inappropriate photos, videos, or text, you need to navigate away immediately. Websites like these, especially when the ads are inappropriate, often have suspicious links that lead to malware, viruses, and other unsafe content.
If you’re struggling to get through an article because of the vocabulary, you might be on a website you’re too young for. Staying on websites meant for your age or level of expertise can help you avoid coming across dangerous content. Sites built for people under the age of 18 have many more protections, so you’ll stay safer while you learn how to navigate the web.
When you’re on a website, pay attention to how high quality the page you’re on is. Are there more suspicious ads than there is content? Are there strange design errors? Are there any grammatical errors? A trustworthy company will take the time to make sure its website looks nice, functions properly, and reads well.
You can tell a lot about the validity of an article by taking a look at what they’re selling. At the bottom or top of most articles, including this one, there’s often a section that directs readers to take an action following their reading of the page.
Checking this box is an excellent way to tell whether there is a bias present by the author or the company that creates the article. It should ring alarm bells for you when, after an article lists the top ten computers, you see that the call to action is to purchase one of those computers.
Even if you delete something after posting it, your digital footprint could stay online forever. Be mindful of what you post, it could come back to haunt you one day. When you record videos, write text posts, or take photos, make sure you double-check the details. Remember that your future employers, college admissions officers, and favorite adults can read every one of your posts.
The internet has become a phenomenal tool for connecting with people around the world. But with access to communication like this comes increased risk. It’s easy to lie on the internet, and some people use the internet to take advantage of other people. Though it’s best to avoid talking to strangers, using social media will inevitably have you interact with some. Always remember that a stranger online isn’t necessarily who they say they are, and that you should never share sensitive information online with someone unless you know them in real life.
Always remind yourself that the people you interact with on social media are real people. It can be much easier to forget when you’re not face-to-face, but the strangers you interact with are people who have hopes, struggles, kindnesses, and flaws, just like you. Before you press send or post, consider how you would feel if you received a message like that from a friend or stranger.
If you happen to be on the receiving end of something negative, the best way to keep yourself safe is to screenshot or save what was sent to you, block the person, and talk to an adult that you trust. If you find that mean words are affecting you, it’s much better to communicate about it and work through it with someone than to ignore those feelings or to lash out because of them.
If you’re ever not sure about the safety of something, ask a trusted, tech-savvy adult. As you navigate the web more, you’ll get a better sense but, for now, there’s no shame in asking those around you. And of course, always trust your gut. If something seems strange or suspicious, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Safe and Healthy Gaming
Navigating the online world safely is of the utmost importance in our digital world. Taking care of your physical and mental health is also extremely important. The MC Byte article “Healthy Gaming: Habits to Improve Your Esports Scores” details many ways to keep your body and mind healthy with tips for improving focus, memory, mental health, and more!
Learn how to avoid common mistakes and health risks while gaming. See how you can apply the concepts you learn from video games to real-life problems. Check out 6 tips for productive gaming in our video.
Learn More about Online Safety
Still have questions about staying safe online? The ICAC Task Force Program officially endorses the following websites for up-to-date safety information:
For children under 13: NetSmartzKids.org
For teens and parents: ConnectSafely.org
Olivia has background in behavioral ecology and data analysis. She develops and implements SEO, CRO, social media strategy, and authors multi-disciplinary content for our blog, & our social media sites. She's contributed to many of the STEM tie-ins within our curriculum, authored our SEL course, and is a specialist in neurodiverse learning strategies.