Online Safety: Are Young People Throwing Caution to the Wind?

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The Internet can be a digital wild west, from phishing schemes and targeted fraud to ransomware and data assaults. You’re leaving yourself exposed to all kinds of threats if you don’t have sufficient protection and a wise mentality. An effective internet security system has never been more critical. 

The good news is that you can easily avoid online dangers. Furthermore, an increasing number of people, particularly younger generations, are eager to learn about the best strategies to confront these risks and keep themselves secure – whether that’s being aware of what they share online or utilizing a free VPN when out and about. However, they aren’t always the most cautious. 

Growing up online 

Younger, digital-savvy individuals would get it more than anyone else. After all, they grew up in a world where “stranger danger” has gone online, cyberbullying is on the rise, and kids are becoming increasingly aware of the risks of what they post online ending up somewhere they don’t want it to. 

Young people today spend more time than any previous generation on their screens. In 2022, US children spent an average of 113 minutes daily on TikTok. That may seem excessive, but it’s to be expected as more and more life moves online for people of all ages, bringing challenges and opportunities for the next generation. 

Growing up online
Young student studing via laptop and mobile | Image credit: Freepik

The significant threats that come with being excessively online should make us all reconsider the dangers that lurk behind the screens. Nevertheless, many young people continue to put their security at risk when they go online.  

With all this said, the online world isn’t going anywhere. But we can do our best to make our online experience as secure as possible. Let’s delve into three practical steps we can take to ensure we are being safe.  

The big three: VPNs, Passwords, and Social media privacy


When connecting to the Internet over a shared network, you should use a virtual private network or a VPN. Assume you’re out and about and join a free Wi-Fi network. You have no idea about the security of such a link. Another person on that network could start combing through or stealing the files and data delivered from your smartphone without your knowledge. The hotspot’s owner could be a thief set on stealing your login details. 

A VPN encrypts your internet traffic and sends it through a secure VPN server. This signifies that no one can access your data, making it an excellent precaution. 


Use a passcode wherever possible, even if it is optional. Think about all of the private information and data on your smartphone, especially with how online this generation is. It is inconceivable to go without a passcode. 

Most smartphones come standard with a four-digit code – don’t stop there. When biometric authentication is available, set a strong passcode rather than a simple four-digit code. Remember that even if you use Touch ID or anything similar, you can still authenticate using the passcode; therefore, it must be strong. 

On that note, multi-factor authentication can be inconvenient, but it significantly improves the security of your accounts. You have to go through an additional form of authentication on top of your login and password to access your accounts. If the data or personal information in an account is critical or valuable, multi-factor authentication should be enabled. 

Social media privacy 

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: if you’re not paying for a service, you’re not a customer; you’re the product. Social media platforms make it easy to share your thoughts and photos with friends, but it’s tempting to overshare. 

You can download your metadata to check what information the social media giant has on file for you. It could be shocking, especially if you’re the type of person who shares a lot online. Be wary of what you choose to share in the first place – not every little thing about your life needs to be online. 

Moreover, be wary of hackers impersonating your friends. A typical fraud begins with a private message and concludes with hackers gaining access to your account and exploiting it to further their means. Even the apps themselves are aware of these scams, with WhatsApp taking measures to up their users’ privacy. If you receive an unusual or unexpected private message from someone you know, inquire about it via email or another form of communication. Your friend could have been duped. 

A generational gap 

On the other side of the spectrum, while young people might need to be taught to be more aware of online dangers, the older generation must be included. The advancement of technology and our lives moving onto social media has created a divide between our youngest and most senior members of society. 

The older generation tends to view social media and the digital world differently and is even less aware of the dangers. They must gain the know-how with technology such as VPNs or multi-factor authentication. We need to ensure all vulnerable members of society know how to stay safe.  

Final thoughts 

Most people who grow up with their lives online are the least concerned about their safety, even though they are the most vulnerable. If you fall into this category, you must continue to educate yourself about online hazards and adopt crucial security precautions. If you are an older internet user with younger children, don’t leave it up to them: explain the risks and invest in technologies to reduce them. 

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