Verify Before You Trust
An online baddie's most powerful tool is something called "social engineering." It’s a type of hacking tactic that requires no special computer skills – they just need to be really good at conversation and convincing people that they are who they say they are. Social engineering works so well because it takes advantage of our kind and trusting nature.
Imagine you received a message or phone call and the person contacting you was warm, friendly and very convincing with their words. Their goal is to build trust with you and then take advantage of that trust by pretending to be someone else, scamming you, getting your private information or even stealing money. This is how scams begin.
Social engineering can also happen when people make up lies and put them on social media websites. People can make up stories or change the truth to get attention, to make others believe something that isn't real, or even to trick them.
Fake news can be used as a way to manipulate people, their thoughts and even their feelings – so it’s important to use your critical thinking skills and always check with a grown-up when you see something strange online.
What Is Social Engineering?
Taking a pause before believing a story or doing something a stranger asks you to do, is a really powerful tool to have in your critical thinking skillset.
Imagine if someone pretending to be your teacher called you and said “Hey, the school is closed tomorrow for repairs and I need you to come to this address tomorrow for class”.
Instead of going to the address, you would probably talk to your parents and call the school through there official phone number to confirm, right? That way, you have questioned the information given to you on the phone and more importantly, verified if the information is true by calling your school directly.
When you take a pause, you give yourself time to think and check things out. If a story sounds super shocking or unexpected, it should be a signal to your critical thinking brain to slow down.
Take A Pause To Verify
Online activities can be super fun, but sometimes you can find yourself looking at a lot of negative stuff online. Just like a rainy day can make you feel a bit gloomy, spending too much time online can bring negative feelings.
If you find yourself feeling down or sad because of the stuff you see online, like angry comments, cyber bullying, or even just your brain feeling overwhelmed from too much information, it can be really helpful to have what’s called a digital detox.
That's when you decide to spend some time without using phones, tablets, computers, or any digital devices. Instead, you focus on doing things that don't involve screens. It's like pressing a reset button that helps you find positivity in other parts of your life.
Negativity In Online Activity
You’ve learnt about social engineering, fake news, how to take a pause to verify information and why it’s a good idea to do a digital detox. Now it’s time to take some action in the real world!
Talk with your parents about doing a digital detox and choose a day that you agree is for doing fun activities that don’t involve screens or the internet.