x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Cyber-public safety

Everyone can profit from what the internet offers: community, efficiency, learning and sheer fun. But to optimise the experience you have to take precautions here, too.

Some 40 per cent of UAE survey respondents say they consider internet social networks to be somewhat or extremely unsafe, numbers we reported on yesterday. But around the world, rapid growth of such sites and services shows that most people are willing to bear the inherent risks.

That is a reasonable response. Public and semi-public parts of the internet are not different, conceptually, from public and semi-public places in the physical world. At the mall, for example, one runs slight but appreciable risks of being mugged, harassed or cheated. But who refuses to go to the malls?

The situation is comparable online. Everyone can profit from what the internet offers: community, efficiency, learning and sheer fun. But to optimise the experience you have to take precautions here, too.

Principal among these is simple vigilance. Anyone prudent enough to keep a wallet safe can learn quickly how to keep personal details safe online.

Where problems can arise is with internet users who have not learnt prudence - namely the young. Parents and caregivers have a responsibility to warn, encourage and teach about the internet just as they teach about red lights and strangers with sweets.

The internet, like so much else in life, has to be used the right way.