I’m more concerned about physical safety. I figure I’m in greater danger from being run over by a car than anything someone online can do, but having said that I haven’t had the kind of abuse some people have. I’ve been online since 1991, by the way, so I have a lot more experience than most people.
Online safety means a few different things to me. I want to know if I manage my money online (either online banking or shopping) that it will be safe. I want to know, if I put any personal details online, who has access to that information and how might it be used. I want to know whether someone can access any personal information I might have stored on my laptop from the internet (using viruses or malware). And I want to know whether I should trust if someone I’m communicating with on the internet is who they say they are. When I was younger and took things to heart more easily I didn’t want to be subject to bullying either, so I might be more careful about where on the internet I decided to hang out, just as I would in the real world. I’m not about to go and hang around a notorious street corner at 3 in the morning!
In fact, these can all relate to how I might behave in the real world – I’m not going to leave my wallet lying around in full view in my car as someone might break into it and steal it, just as I wouldn’t post a photo of my credit card details on twitter. I’m not going to tell a random stranger where I live and that I’m going to be on holiday tomorrow so they would know they could break into my house more easily then. I’m also not going to talk to some strangers that I meet randomly and invite them round to my house for a cup of tea when I don’t even know their names, let alone if they’re trustworthy.
I think online safety is about common sense, and not letting the breadth and anonymity of the internet give a false sense of security.