Social networking is now an important part of the daily routine of most people. This was one of the reasons that led the Portuguese SIC to focus on creating the free online course "Cybersocial citizen", which is made available through the NAU platform. "We use different social networks for different purposes, so we should know how they work and highlight best practices in their use to ensure more cybersecurity and more privacy for users," explains the SIC.
After the first version of this course in 2021, a new edition was launched on 17 June 2022. The course lasts about three hours and includes four modules supported by texts and videos. All the material is available immediately after your enrolment, so you can follow at your own learning pace.
Some of the topics covered are related to online privacy (practical tips on how to use social networks safely), digital wellbeing (e.g. how not to let social networks affect your self-esteem) and influencer marketing (explaining the main techniques used online to sell a product with the help of digital influencers).
Second edition with new features
Lara Lima, member of the national centre The big news affirms that the focus is on digital parenting and sharing: "Social networks are here to stay and we need to teach the new generation from an early age how to use them properly to ensure social and personal well-being".
She also highlights the inclusion of three new units that she considers "essential, especially for young people", dealing with three different phenomena that occur through social networks: online grooming, unwanted communication and threats. Lara Lima reminds us that young people in these situations "always have the support of the Safer Internet Centre to turn to".
About the overall appreciation of the course after the end of the first edition, Lara Lima concludes that "to date, the course has an excellent level of satisfaction. We believe in the success of these courses". Find more information here on the various free online courses offered by the SIC.
Insights from the Cybersocial citizen course
Module 1: Social networks, popularity, and attraction
Basically, it's an introductory module. We try to understand how many users there are in Portugal and how the status compares to other countries. Then we try to explain what makes social networks so attractive and why people often overuse them.
Module 2: Privacy, security and personal data
This unit has been newly introduced in the new edition. In this module, we give practical tips on how to ensure security on social networks: how to create strong passwords, what kind of privacy policies we should follow, etc. We also address the issue of online grooming. Basically, we talk about the dangers that exist and explain how to recognise these threats.
Module 3: Netiquette, well-being, and digital reputation
This module is essential for younger people. Here we go into the well-being on social media, which means explaining how you as a user can take control - and not let what you see on social media affect your day, your self-esteem or how you feel. We talk about FOMO - the fear of missing out. And about how important it is to realise that when we are online, we leave a digital footprint that will stay forever.
Module 4: Influencers, influence and marketing
The last module is about influencers and making people aware that not everything you see on social media is organic. In other words, we explain that there is a business behind social media content and that new professions have emerged with the rise of the networks. In this lesson, we talk about influencer marketing and the importance of understanding when you are being sold a product.
Find out more about the work of the Portuguese Safer Internet Centre, including its awareness raising, helpline, hotline and youth participation services – or find similar information for Safer Internet Centres throughout Europe.