We continuously keep using Internet to stay in touch with the world. It is very important especially for young people to remain connected individually and as a group. Internet allowed that connection to be easier than it was.
Unfortunately the boundary that separates real life from what takes place online is hard to define, and everything that happens virtually has its consequences. “Connect with respect” involves maintaining the “rights and responsibilities” that we have among society, and do not do to others what we would not like or expect them to do to us.
Moreover, Internet is now a powerful way for self expression. The freedom to publish our own ideas online is higher than ever, especially due to social media (social networks, blogs, …), which has become quite popular among teenagers. Being easy and free, without any control, it is not difficult to find examples of posts containing inappropriate contents, wrong information, copyright items (“stolen” and taken as their own). Where is respect for the others, then?
Other frequent mistake is related to texting and the use of email. How many of us have already used capital letters (shouting), forwarded unimportant messages or sent messages to our contacts? And what is wrong about it? Well, apparently nothing, but you may be quite annoying to the person you are sending the email or even be spreading the risks for people to receive messages from people they might not even know…
Finally, cyberbullying is a critical issue. It results from the lack of respect for others’ feelings, deliberately causing suffering to people, by blackmailing, insulting… As citizens we should not approve and behave like a cyber bully. Rather, we should condemn it and in case we become a victim of cyber bullying talk with our parents, adults or someone else we trust.
I do believe that cyber ethics (the online behaviour which implies respect for others) is something we need to be aware of, not only when we publish online but also on Internet based interactions with others.