Today we live in a culture that the majority of people, young and not so young, are hooked on some type of gadget.
From infants and toddlers being handed their parents mobile devices for entertainment, to elementary children having their own iPads and tweens and teens proudly attached to their smartphones -- we are all digitally connected in some media form.
It also gives us all an opportunity to give back in the cyber-world.
From siblings, to parents to grandparents to neighbors to friends, no matter how old you are, you can become a cyber-advocate to others.
You don't need a high school diploma (and this doesn't mean you drop out of school), you don't need a four-year degree (this doesn't mean you don't someday need a higher education), you don't even need vocational school.
What do you need to become a cyber-advocate besides being digitally connected?
You need to understand that we are always learning from each other, as cyber-advocates, we are there for each other in many ways.
If you see a nasty comment about someone or an embarrassing photo, put a stop to it. Don't fuel it. Does mom, grandma or your younger sibling need to learn a new feature on their phone? If so, teach it to them. Parents: ask your child to teach you more about an app, like Snapchat.
The Three C's of Social Online Behavior.
It is important to learn and practice the three C's of social online behavior, which are:
Conduct: How you conduct yourself offline, should be the same as how you treat others online no matter what device you are using. Whether you are texting, sending an email or posting on a social media platform, be sure you implement your digital etiquette of pausing before sending any electronic notes. Lead by example.
Contacts: De-clutter your email banks and friends lists by limiting your contacts. It's not about quantity, it's about quality. Especially if you are someone that frequently shares personal photo's and information, even with your privacy settings, know who your friends and family are. Take the time to create your lists with your select contacts.
Compassion: Last, but most important is compassion and empathy. Without it, you don't belong online. As a cyber-advocate having compassion is a priority. When you witness someone that is having an ugly day, you are able to reach out with cyber-smile or simply be the digital communicator that lets them know you are there for them. A cyber-advocate is someone that has your back and you know you can turn to for any issues, no matter how small or large they are -- without judgment.
Becoming a cyber-advocate is more than sharing skills like stop, block and tell if you are being harassed.
It's about -- 'hey, I'm here for you.'