In this day and age, technology is absolutely everywhere, merged into every aspect of our lives, from shopping, to socializing, even to eating or drinking! And, despite the many benefits of digital technology, from time to time we find ourselves facing real dilemmas that this encroaching digital age brings.
The importance of digital skills therefore cannot be overstated. Everything about us, from our childhood school, to our banking details, to our relationship status, is hosted online now. And this information is just as valuable as it’s always been.
There is a digital skills revolution underway. Much like back in the day, when we first introduced IT courses to classes full of eager children and adults, desperate to learn new, vital skills such as using a Word document, or browsing the internet, we are now in need of a new skillset that must be trained or otherwise acquired.
In education we are seeing how technology is slowly becoming, not just a tool we can use to improve our classes, but something that needs to be taught in its own right. And one of these new skillsets that we need to start actively teaching is how we can protect our information from the machines of the new digital age.
Personal safety and protection is a huge aspect of understanding the internet. Quite simply, the more we live online, the more we need to learn to guard ourselves in that life.
Many people will put stickers over their laptop and phone cameras, for example. Most of us make sure to have up-to-date antivirus software, to protect us against hostile attacks or spyware. We like to think that the people who would attack our computers are few and far between, so we only really do the bare essentials, the same level of protection that we would have considered in the early 2000s.
However we need to go beyond these rudimentary techniques, or a reliance on acts such as GDPR, if we want to truly protect ourselves. Our digital footprint is a complete minefield of valuable and sensitive information, and a simple antivirus program will not stop determined hackers from scouting out our bank details or personal information.
We have to think about digital security much the same way we think about physical security. A bit of tape over the camera is like adding curtains to our window. And GDPR is like the many laws against burglary and theft. But would we rely on these measures to protect our homes? Of course not. We make sure to lock our doors and windows. We do not give our address out to people on the street. We do not leave our CV in random cafés.
The only way we can progress to trusting digital technology the same way we trust our homes, is by treating digital spaces with the same caution and respect that we treat physical ones. Using adblockers, script blockers, and proxies. Deleting cookies, disabling trackers, not storing information. These measures might have seemed extreme a few years ago, but today they are essential digital skills.
We live in a new age, and we need to adjust our online behaviour accordingly.