Tips to maximize your online experience

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Newcomer or not, we all have to learn how to use online tools in the increasingly connected world that we live in. Looking for information, finding and applying for a job, and accessing services are just some of the necessary tasks we now do online. When we talk of online communication, this includes emails, participation in forums or blogs, online banking or shopping, use of social media, chats, texts, tweets, and other such forms.

Evidently, online tools have made our day to day activities easier and faster, allowing access anywhere and anytime we please. However, to fully maximize its benefits, we should learn new skills and new codes of conduct. The following are some of the basic ones you should keep in mind:

Build a good digital reputation

A good reputation online, as in real life, enables you to attract good connections and positive feedback. This generally entails good quality posts and positive interactions with other netizens. This consists of:

  • Crafting thoughtful messages
  • Don’t post or send anything that you will regret, whether it is a picture or written information. Remember, you are creating a permanent digital footprint that can be saved, shared, and retrieved. So don’t broadcast/publish anything you wouldn’t want your mom or employers to see. Make it a point to double or triple check your words before you send to avoid grammatical or spelling errors. More importantly, assess if what you are communicating will benefit others. Your messages should reflect the kind of persona you wish to build online.

  • Lurking before you leap
  • If you are participating in an online forum, read the posts first and observe the general trend of discussions so that you’ll know what people are talking about and avoid saying what has already been mentioned.

  • Never flaming or spamming
  • Flaming is a hostile argument online that usually uses insults and profanity. Not only is this immature but a big waste of your time. Spamming, on the other hand, is sending unsolicited messages to sell products or services. Nobody wants to receive spam mail, even you. So don’t send them.

  • Never being a troll
  • Inciting people to argue and be angry through insulting posts is not only in bad form but may also land you in jail for bullying or harassment.

  • Minding your manners
  • Always observe good netiquette whenever online. Treat others as you would want to be treated. To learn more about proper netiquette, go to this article: 5 simple rules of proper netiquette.

Stay secure

  • Keep your personal information safe. Don’t give out your credit card number right away to anyone who requests it, especially online. Read How to safely use your credit card online by La Toya Irby on About Money for safe transactions. Don’t disclose your Social Insurance Number (SIN); provide it only when legally required. Download and read Your Social Insurance Number: A shared responsibility from Service Canada to know who can ask for your SIN.
  • Make your passwords hard to guess. Here are some tips from Google:
  • Always log off after using password-protected sites and don’t use software that memorizes passwords. Someone else can get hold of your computer and access these sites without your knowledge.
  • Don’t open emails or links if you do not know the sender. They may have encrypted viruses and infect your computer.
  • Don’t go to sites that “pirate” or steal copyrighted content such as movies or music. Many use pop-up ads that could infect your computer.

Build good connections

Subscribe or register with sites that can connect you with other people with the same interests or the same profession. LinkedIn is usually the site to go to for professional connections. You can also try Twitter or Facebook. Nowadays, social media is a good tool for linking with other people for your personal and professional learning and growth. Read the article What’s a PLN and why do you need it? to know how good online connections can benefit you.

Be discerning

Don’t believe everything you see or read online. Only go to legitimate sites for information, such as major news or broadcast sites. Sometimes, just by the look and feel of a site, you would know if it is reliable or not. Grammatical or spelling errors, too many ads, the lack of a cohesive design are some of the tell-tale signs of a low quality (and even fake)websites. For other signs, read: Eight ways to tell if a website is reliable by Tony Rogers of About News.

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