As a university student, you jump from one website to another; liking your friend’s facebook or retweeting your favourite celebrity’s updates. You are undeniably familiar with using the vast World Wide Web, and most of us could vouch that it is also a huge part of our social life. However, we may forget to use proper ‘manners’ when using the internet, which can sometimes put us in difficult situations.
Whatever we post online can be viewed by people we don’t even know, like potential graduate schools or employers, and therefore, it is important to be aware of our online etiquette, or netiquette, before turning our personal information into public knowledge. Read the different situations below and let’s see how good your netiquette is!
You find an incriminating (but really funny) picture of your friend on your phone from your time out last night and you really want to share it with her. Do you post the photo on her Facebook wall or send it to her in a personal message?
Netiquette: Use your discretion, especially when posting pictures! Pictures are worth a thousand words and without context, or explanation, it can lead others to drawing incorrect conclusions about you or your friends.
You realize that people you don’t even know are messaging you on Facebook. Do you strike up a conversation with them or block them from your profile?
Netiquette: Know your privacy settings on Facebook and other social networking sites! Just type in “Facebook Governance Site” into any search engine for updates on Facebook’s security policies, and search their Data Use policy to thoroughly discover what Facebook does with your information.
You’ve discovered the tactic of looking through pictures on tumblr and Facebook when you are tired/stressed/bored of doing your schoolwork. You realize that this is becoming a normal habit and you don’t seem to be getting your schoolwork done. How do you know whether this is normal or whether you need to exercise self-control?
Netiquette: According to the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) Survey completed in 2009 at McMaster, students reported internet/computer use as the SECOND highest of the factors affecting their academics, following stress. This is a significant concern for students here. Monitor your internet usage, focusing on managing your priorities. Enlist the help of a good friend, or a computer application like Self-Control for Mac or Freedom for PC users, to help you stay on track. If you are concerned about your internet usage, and want to speak to a helping professional, visit the Student Wellness Centre in MUSC B101 for resources and information.
Facebook and Twitter and other social media have been awesome, with all the instant updates about your friends and family. However, all of these updates and constant digital connections can leave us open to some potential dangers.
Cyberstalking occurs when the internet or other electronic means are used to harass others. Some examples of cyberstalking include: someone sending a constant streams of emails or instant messages to you, posting inappropriate comments or making false accusations on your social networking sites, hacking and sending viruses to your computer, or attempting to gather personal information about you, such as your phone number or home address, that can develop into offline stalking.
Cyberstalkers can be anyone, including people you don’t know from online forums and communities, but are generally someone with whom you have a close personal tie, like a former intimate partner, co-worker or classmate.
Most importantly, if you are concerned for your personal safety, contact Security Services by dialing “88” from a campus phone or by calling 905-522-4135, for support.