Facing online challenges head on

Managing our safety and security online has never been easier.

Written by Eleanor Walsh


Even as a young person who “internets” a lot, it can be hard for me to answer the question of “Why do young people use the Internet the way we do?” We use it to connect with people around the world and to disconnect from our daily lives. We use it as a tool to create, collaborate, destroy, steal, learn and more often than not to avoid learning.

The dual nature of the internet makes it difficult for us to define whether or not the internet has changed our lives for the better or the worst. The comedic question of how we ever survived without internet has been replaced with the serious question of how do we survive when the internet has become so entwined with our daily lives?

For anyone outside of the “Youth” category of identification, it can be hard to understand us young people and our constantly “plugged in” relationship with the Internet. This is because older generations have adapted to life with the Internet and have assimilated it into their lives, whereas we have never known a world without Internet. We speak in #hashtags, think in 140 characters and use social media as a primary tool of communication. We have never known anything other than expressing ourselves in 140 characters or FB posts.

Because the main assault against online security and safety issues is undertaken by adults, it can happen that we young ones can become apathetic and don’t identify with the approaches taken. I myself am particularly guilty of clicking “Agree” on any and all service user agreements without reading them, just to get the latest app on my phone. People in control of security in social media companies do so much to protect their users but what happens when their remit can only reach so far? In the case of cyberbullying and other threats to young internet users, there is only so much a proactive parent and security development team can do.

This is where our role as young people and active users of these online platforms becomes pivotal.  Apps and internet developments mean we communicate twice as fast and twice as much as before and this will likely increase in the future. We have an almost trigger like reflex when it comes to sharing our lives online; my own trigger reflex is aching to share my life online every day. It can be fair to say, that even though we are the technologically gifted generation, there are things about our own Internet use that even we don’t understand.
The conversation around youth online safety has been extended outwards to include youth experiences but there is still a lot of work to be done to inspire a youth-led Internet safety revolution.

This is where SpunOut.ie and the Online Safety Hub come into play! SpunOut’s approach to providing information has always been youth-led and inspired. Being a member of the SpunOut Action Panel, I have witnessed this approach first-hand. Youth proofing is at the centre of any content generated by the team at SpunOut and the contributions of the Action Panel are always a priority.

The value that SpunOut places on the opinions and experiences of young people is unrivalled and it is because of their belief that young people can create and change their own circumstances that a positive shift in young people’s relationship with the Internet is about to happen.

The Online Safety Hub is a much needed resource for young people. Everything from its interface to its content is youth inspired. The Online Safety Hub knows that young people want to access information easily without spending hours scrolling through user agreements across different platforms so has provided the information all in one place.

The Hub is easy and quick to navigate. There is information on how to secure passwords, be safe using dating apps and so much more. Even better again, the Hub has gone as far as to breakdown the jargon of safety guidelines meaning we young people no longer have to be guilty of agreeing to terms of service we don’t understand.

The Hub leaves no question unanswered and covers all major Social Media apps and more across both Android and IOS platforms. With this resource, SpunOut.ie brings the challenge of online security and safety to every young internet user. It’s a challenge they know we can succeed at and it’s because of their confidence and belief in empowered young people that we will succeed at making our online interactions, safer, secure and more positive with the help of “The Online Safety Hub”.

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