Online safety trainings held in Philly, Oakland

Consumer Action Outreach team introduced the new "Put a Lock on It" publication and talked about online safety and privacy.
Published: Saturday, March 05, 2016

We rely on the Internet for so much these days, from shopping to banking to socializing and entertainment, but there can be risks when so much of our personal information is at stake. As part of an ongoing project to educate consumers about online safety, Consumer Action visited Oakland, CA and Philadelphia, PA last month to present our "Put a Lock on It: Protecting your online privacy" educational module. The module was developed by Consumer Action in partnership with Google, and was presented at the trainings jointly by Consumer Action outreach and training managers Linda Williams and Nelson Santiago.

Put a Lock on It focuses on providing Internet users with the knowledge to keep themselves and their families safe while taking advantage of the many benefits of being online. Topics include securing online accounts and mobile apps, shopping and banking safely on a computer or mobile device, preserving privacy while using social media, and avoiding unwelcome content and communications.

Linda Williams kicked off the presentation by asking attendees what several seemingly random items, including a box of cookies and a package of goldfish-shaped crackers, had to do with digital safety and privacy. Participants discussed in groups how the items might be connected and then shared their thoughts. One group talked about how the goldfish crackers reminded them of online phishing email scams. Another group talked about how the box of cookies served as a reminder of the tracking cookies that advertisers use to follow people around online. "Cookies—they’re like when you're shopping for purple underwear," said the spokesperson for a group that was clearly enjoying the activity, "other websites you visit later will keep showing you ads for purple underwear."

The training included a session on effective ways to teach adults about online safety. Emphasizing the importance of taking into account different learning styles, Williams encouraged participants to include in their future workshops materials to engage all types of learners, from visual to kinesthetic to auditory. She also reminded participants to take the time to explain upfront what attendees will gain from listening. "Adult learners are often tuned into the WII-FM radio station," Williams joked. "They want to know, 'What's in it for me?'" She stressed that if trainers take the time explain how and why a workshop will be relevant, they will be more successful in sharing key information.

Santiago then went on to introduce participants to the classroom activities embedded in the Put a Lock on It lesson plan. "One of the goals of the training," Santiago explained, "is to have participants become familiar with the module's activities, and to start thinking about how they will use them in their own workshops." The activities include an exercise on how to spot phishing scams (which featured authentic phishing emails that could fool many a consumer). Another activity put together several hypothetical social media posts that class participants could analyze to decide whether or not the post was a smart idea with regard to online safety/protecting one's reputation.

Santiago also provided participants with a list of practical resources that they could share with clients to help them stay safe online. Resources include technical step-by-step instructions on activities like securing a home network, as well as concrete recommendations for selecting effective anti-malware software and finding the best programs to help reduce unwanted marketing. The resource sheet also includes links (when available) to Spanish language materials, advice specific to families with children, and guidance to help prevent and remedy ID theft resulting from online fraud.




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