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A guide to using the internet intelligently

3 min read

A guide to using the internet intelligently
From reading diversely to guarding your privacy, these eight tips are your compass in the digital realm for using the internet intelligently
In the vast ocean of information that is the internet, staying afloat can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. As we ride the waves of digital connectivity, it's crucial to navigate with intelligence and discernment. The internet is a treasure trove of knowledge, but it requires a thoughtful approach to separate the gems from the clutter.
From fact-checking to understanding confirmation bias, here are eight tips to guide you through the intricate web of online information.

1. Read from multiple sources

In the age of information abundance, consuming content from various sources is a cardinal rule of intelligent internet usage. Diversify your reading by exploring different perspectives, opinions and reporting styles. This not only broadens your knowledge base but also provides a more comprehensive and unbiased understanding of any given topic.
"Diversify your reading by exploring different perspectives, opinions and reporting styles"
Whether you're delving into news articles, research papers or opinion pieces, cross-referencing information from multiple sources acts as a safeguard against potential biases and inaccuracies. Embrace the diversity of the internet, and let your journey through its digital landscapes be a panoramic exploration rather than a narrow tunnel.

2. Fact-check

Man reading a website article on his phone
The internet is a breeding ground for both information and misinformation. Cultivate your inner digital detective by fact-checking relentlessly. Verify the accuracy and reliability of the information you encounter, especially before sharing it with others.
Be wary of sensational headlines and scrutinise the credibility of the sources you rely on. By honing your fact-checking skills, you not only protect yourself from falling prey to misinformation but also contribute to a healthier and more reliable digital ecosystem.

3. Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias, the tendency to favour information that confirms our existing beliefs, is a common pitfall in the digital realm. To use the internet intelligently, be aware of this cognitive bias and actively seek out information that challenges your perspectives. Engage with content that presents alternative viewpoints, fostering a more nuanced understanding of complex issues. Social media algorithms often contribute to confirmation bias by curating content based on your preferences.
"Favouring information that confirms our existing beliefs is a common pitfall in the digital realm"
Break out of the echo chamber by intentionally diversifying your feed and following voices that offer different insights. By embracing intellectual diversity, you cultivate a more informed and open-minded approach to the information landscape.

4. Guard your personal details

Woman ordering clothing on a website using her credit card that she's holding
The internet is a vast sea, and your personal details are the precious cargo on your digital vessel. Use the internet intelligently by guarding your privacy with diligence. Be cautious about sharing sensitive information, such as your home address, financial details or personal routines.
Utilise privacy settings on social media platforms, review app permissions, and employ strong, unique passwords for your accounts. Consider the implications of what you post online, as the digital trail you leave behind can have lasting consequences.

5. Practice digital wellness

The internet, with its endless streams of information, can be a captivating rabbit hole. Use the internet intelligently by practicing digital wellness, which includes mindful management of your screen time. Set boundaries for your online engagement, taking breaks to reduce eye strain and mental fatigue.
"Digital wellness includes mindful management of your screen time"
Be intentional about what you consume, choosing quality over quantity. Unplug periodically to reconnect with the offline world and foster a healthier relationship with technology. By incorporating digital wellness practices, you enhance your overall well-being in the digital age.

6. Discern clickbait

Visiting a news website on a laptop
On the ever-expanding internet, clickbait is the siren's call that can lead you astray. Learn to discern clickbait headlines by being wary of sensationalism and exaggerated claims. Clickbait is designed to grab attention quickly, often at the expense of accuracy and nuance.
Before clicking on a flashy headline, scrutinise the content and consider its source. Look for reputable news outlets and verify the information's authenticity. By navigating the shoals of sensationalism with discernment, you avoid being lured into shallow waters and cultivate a more critical approach to online content.

7. Digital etiquette

Just as there are rules of conduct in the physical world, there are etiquettes to observe in the digital realm. Use the internet intelligently by understanding and practicing digital etiquette. Be respectful in online interactions, avoiding cyberbullying, hate speech and harassment. Use proper netiquette in emails and online forums, and cite sources when sharing information.
"Be respectful in online interactions, avoiding cyberbullying, hate speech and harassment"
Respect intellectual property rights and be mindful of the impact your digital footprint can have on your reputation. Navigating cyberspace with digital etiquette ensures smoother and more positive online interactions.

8. Online security

Internet intelligence extends beyond information consumption to safeguarding your virtual haven. Stay informed about online security measures to protect yourself from cyber threats. Keep your devices and software updated, use secure networks, and be cautious about clicking on suspicious links.
Familiarise yourself with common online scams and phishing tactics. By fortifying your virtual defences, you create a safer online environment for yourself and contribute to the collective resilience against cyber threats.
Banner photo credit: George Milton

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