Dear Baby Boomers

I know the title is very specific, but I am writing this for anyone who is learning about the internet, especially those of the baby boomer generation and older (although younger people can benefit as well).

Before I begin, please do not interpret this as me talking down to you. That is not my aim at all. This is coming from a genuine concern for those who may be less familiar with the internet and what mysteries lie throughout. Listed below are certain elements that can be dangerous or destructive. People could spend weeks writing adding to and elaborating on this list, but these are just a handful that come to my mind.

Phishing
Many of you may already be familiar with this. Phishing is basically attempted theft of your money or personal information. Common examples of this include emails from people claiming to be from a foreign country in dire need of help, those who say they have recently had a death in the family and need someone to help with the inheritance money, or websites that shout, “You’ve Won!” in flashy advertisements. Ignore all of these, because they are not genuine. They are simply trying to steal your personal information (email, bank account info, etc).

Trolling
The definition of an internet troll is a very specific one. If someone is a troll, they post radical or nasty comments for the sake of starting an argument online. These comments may or may not include truth in them, but ultimately the purpose is to elicit a response from people. For example: if I were to say, “You are going to hell because you drank a glass of wine,” somewhere on the internet, no doubt my comment may be met with intense debate on religious practices, the existence of hell, or the effects of drinking a glass of wine. If someone accuses you of being a troll on the internet, it doesn’t matter how genuinely you believe in what you are saying; others are seeing it as an attempt to ruffle feathers for no reason. Arguments involving trolling are never productive because they only result in infuriated people instead of intelligent discussion.

Revenge Porn
You decide to take provocative pictures of yourself to send your significant other. Some time later, the two of you break up, ending the relationship on bad terms. Your partner is angry and posts your revealing photos online for others to ogle at and make perverted or degrading comments about your body.

Kidnapping
You are babysitting your young granddaughter and you post a picture of her from your phone to Facebook with the caption, “Look at this little angel I get to see every week.” Meanwhile, the location services are enabled on your phone, meaning you may have accidentally also posted your address (location services allow you to use the gps on your phone, and location services on Facebook allow you to tell others where you are). A pedophile uses his tricks to get past your privacy settings and see exactly where you live and when you posted the photo. With this information, he begins spying on your house and learns when your granddaughter comes to visit. One moment she will be playing in the yard, and the next moment she will be gone.

Cyber Bullying
This tends to be more common among the younger generations. You may have known the kid that people teased at the playground, but this is much worse. Complete strangers will call someone fat, ugly, or other hateful names. Some will go as far as to suggest that the victim should kill him/herself because they don’t deserve to exist. And sometimes the victim will kill him/herself after becoming overwhelmed with the abuse.

Fake News
There are countless news websites that are purely satirical and should not be taken seriously. The Onion is a classic example, and they declare on their website that the information they post is satirical. Occasionally you will come across articles from unfamiliar websites that may or may not contain accurate information. It is always important to fact check before becoming outraged about a certain issue that does not even exist. A quick Google search can often resolve the question, although sometimes the answer is more challenging to find. This is why you must take anything you watch or read with a grain of salt until you are sure you can trust the source.

Hopefully you find this list helpful. My knowledge on this subject is very limited, but I have seen multiple examples of some of the above situations that can be remedied with a little extra caution and discernment.

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