Editor’s note: The Scoop reporter Sia Soleil Taisipic recently participated in a cybersecurity workshop and shares some of what she learned, as well as the experiences of some local residents using the internet.
The internet is sometimes viewed, particularly for younger users, as an unsafe environment that enables malicious users to harm others.
It’s true – there are many dark corners on the internet. Users that cyberbully or make viruses to hack people’s computers for personal information are only a small portion of ill-natured individuals who take advantage of the internet for the wrong reasons.
But Tiara Treltas, a CHamoru Language and Cultural Arts Teacher at J.P. Torres Success Academy, believes the online environment is only as toxic as the person behind the keyboard.
“The internet only becomes a toxic place when an individual forces themselves into a situation that they can’t control or know nothing about,” Treltas said. “Curiosity gets the best of everyone and some people are tempted to make choices that put a negative mark on the internet.”
The internet, however, connects millions of computers globally. In spite of its negative aspects, it plays a vital role in bringing together people from all over the world, and in not just providing entertainment but also connecting educators and learners, employees and clients, and family members.
And in today’s COVID-19-afflicted world, where we are forced to maintain safe distances from others outside of our household, the internet remains a vital platform for billions of people.
“The pandemic has swayed the perception of everyone and anyone who has had a negative outlook on the internet,” Treltas said. “You can see the change of mindset and the growth of many individuals required to use this source. Before the pandemic, we looked at the internet as a luxurious source. Now it has become a worldwide necessity that has forced a major change in our way of living.”
Whether through Zoom, Google Meet or FaceTime, countless connected apps and software programs allow everyone around the world to remain in contact with people they no longer can be close to physically.
‘My daily worry … is no longer there’
Saint Francis Catholic School kindergarten teacher Madeline Martinez is aware of the risks that come with using the internet. She said it has allowed her to stay in touch with her loved ones without risking their lives or hers.
“I stay connected with people not in my immediate family especially because it’s safer to use the internet than to be in person and cause a rise in our numbers,” Martinez said.
The virtual world has offered users what seems like an infinite fount of information that facilitates education, even before the pandemic drove schools and students online.
Martinez has also benefited from the internet, giving her a platform through which she can still foster the education and growth of her Little Crusaders with their safety and health in mind.
“Though I face the difficulties of not being able to teach them face to face, my daily worry of sending my little ones back home into the arms of their parents/grandparents/family coronavirus-free is no longer there,” she said.
Martinez has come to enjoy her time in the virtual classroom with her kindergartners knowing their safety is not at risk.
Not only has it allowed her to stay connected with those in her life and given her the opportunity to continue to teach her students, but it has also become a source of entertainment. During her free time, she said, she indulges in games of Candy Crush Saga and online shopping.
Healthy use of the internet and electronic devices is important as well, she said.
“It has definitely been bad for my health, especially my eyesight. I try to minimize my screen time so Candy Crush and online shopping are the only things I do after 2:45 p.m.”
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