New skills, new knowledge and digital skills make up the to-do list in the ever-changing world we live in today. Those who need to move to the digital environment of this new world are known as digital immigrants, new citizens who arrive in a new place, and consequently must learn several things to adapt. This can take a lot of effort.

Some people have the process more advanced than others, because they know how to use the devices, because they have friends or relatives at home who can help them, or because as a result of their daily activities they have been closer to certain resources, for example. But each person is a different case.

But how to make that leap to digital environments and not die trying? The first guideline, and perhaps the most important, is to think about what would be done in the face-to-face environment, or what would not be done. Because, remember, there are not 2 worlds (one virtual and one 'real', which is really a physical world); it is one with very real implications. These are some basic guidelines for people who are taking that step, who are venturing into the digital environment.

What motivates you to venture into digital environments ?:

It is important to ask yourself this question because it will let you know what kind of tools and knowledge you need to develop. If, for example, it is for a personal purpose and what you want is to talk with family and friends, you would have to know messaging applications or social networks such as Facebook or WhatsApp.

If it is a labor purpose, it is necessary to analyze each sector. If you work in music, or want to market a product, or offer virtual classes, in each case, the path will be different.

Once you are clear about what you are entering the digital environment for, the guideline is to start looking for specific information according to your objective, and step by step you will find the way.

Read also: Immigrants and Digital Natives, the problem is not age.

Select the appropriate tool and plugins:

Not every phone, computer, tablet, or other device works for everything. A clear example of this are the telephones for video game fans, which need special features to be able to process and run these games without the device locking up.

If, for example, a person wants to use social media to sell a product or service, they will require a device with a good camera to take better quality photos. If you add to this that you want to make video broadcasts through Facebook Live, Instagram Live or another platform, you will need, in addition to a good camera, a good one. connectivity; from then on you can add as many things as necessary and possible.

If you need to study, you may need specific tools such as Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, or others. If you have a business, you may need WhatsApp Business, instead of traditional WhatsApp. If you are going to work in programming, you will surely need a computer with certain specific characteristics.

Just because the neighbor or friend has such or such a phone or computer doesn't necessarily mean it's the right one for you too.

Manage the resource:

Not everything digital is necessarily related to the Internet. But if it is about taking advantage of the opportunities that virtuality brings, it is necessary to have good connectivity; There are mainly 2 types: fixed it, which is the service offered by an operator and in which a modem is installed at home, which can be wired (with cables) or wireless (such as satellite Internet); or the mobile, which is popularly known as the data service on a phone or tablet.

There are areas of Colombia where there are no fixed connectivity services and the only option is mobile. There are other cases, in which the satellite connectivity is another option. In all these cases, they are services that each user pays through different operators.

There are other cases such as free Internet services in Wi-Fi zones, which some city halls in the country have set up over the years, in places such as squares, parks and other public places and establishments.

It is important to take into account the type of connectivity, precisely to give an adequate use to this resource, such as it is given to water or light. Read a book or watch a movie on streaming require different degrees of consumption: the former can be downloaded and read offline, while watching a movie requires constant Internet consumption. If there is only one device in the home, what is it better to use connectivity for? As far as possible, organize and optimize the consumption of the service.

To master the essentials:

Just as the use of Word or Excel has become an essential part of daily life, there are other elements that add to that arsenal that each user must master, such as having an email account. Why? Because it is the basic element to join any digital service.

See:#LaProfeTIC, class 1: Digital quotient.

Acquiring an application for the phone will only be possible if you create an account in the respective application store, and to create it you need email. To register for a course or have an account on any social network, the common element that they will ask you for is an email account; In addition, it is the main security filter for any other accounts you want to create. If you forget your password, the first thing they will verify is your email. Take care of that resource, because if someone manages to access your email, they could also steal access to your other related accounts.

Review the terms and conditions of TODO:

What WhatsApp is going to share information with Facebook and Instagram? Is it really useful to publish on the Facebook wall that does not authorize the use of your data?Do you know which applications have access to your camera, your photos, or your location?… Each service has terms and conditions, it is the user's responsibility to read them before accepting use. In most cases, users expose themselves to privacy and security risks by accepting without reading. Think that it is a labor contract, you have to read everything, especially the fine print.

On the other hand, since they are mostly foreign applications, unfortunately not all are in Spanish or do not have a good translation; If you are not sure what they mean, seek information from reliable sources.

Learn how each service or product works:

When using a new application, program, service or device, it is worth thinking about that moment when you were buying a television or a sound system, for which it was necessary to read the manual, or at least give it a glance, to know how does it work. Where it turns on, where it turns off, how to configure the language and other settings. It is the same with any digital service, each one has tricks, functionalities, options to customize, a security and privacy settings, and they usually have user blogs where they are constantly posting their news. Review them, they are for that, to help each user in their digital day to day.

In short, 'mess' each service and in its different versions so as not to get lost, because there are usually changes. If you access from the computer, you can find some functions, but not in the mobile application; Add to that the fact that services are constantly changing. There are new functions, others that disappear, new filters, a new way of displaying content, etc.

Additionally, if they are fathers or mothers, or are responsible for the care of minors, it is especially It is important that you know how social networks and other platforms work in order to accompany and guide them.

Activate the security tools:

One of the biggest problems in the digital environment is that, in many cases, you have to create a new account for everything, and This implies creating a password for each one or falling into the mistake of using the same password for everything. It is estimated that a person can have an average of 90 passwords to manage online (emails, social networks, banks, services, subscriptions, etc.), so it is really difficult to manage all of them, even more so with so many cybercriminals on the prowl (in search of that access data).

A good practice is to use 2-Step Verification, an additional security filter, in which another method is added to verify the identity of the user, which is usually the mobile phone number. For example, if a new entry is detected to your email account, the provider of this service (Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo or whatever) will send a text message or make a call to your number, indicating a code to access service. If the user is not the one who is entering, they will realize that someone is trying, so you can prevent them from accessing and prevent information theft. If it is the user, just enter the code to continue with the service.

Using a phone with some type of biometric verification (such as a fingerprint) is another alternative, as long as each user reads and reviews the terms and conditions of its use.

Read also: Viruses, an outdated concept that falls short of today's threats.

Be careful what you post and how you post it:

From the moment you venture onto the Internet, you begin to leave a trail, which is not necessarily photos or videos. The fingerprint (which is not the same fingerprint) is made up of several elements (we will have detailed content on that), but if we have seen something, it is that old publications pass a collection account (an example is politicians and their contradictory messages each 4 years). Now, people can change their minds and it's not bad; however, it is essential to have a communication based on empathy and respect. Citizenship also manifests itself in the digital environment.

Walking down the street hurling rude words to the 4 winds is not holy, nor is sharing hateful, rude or violent messages in virtual settings. An insult in the street is an aggression and generates consequences; An aggression in networks is also such and its consequences are not only legal, because –recurring to the example of the messages of previous years– for a citizen it can represent the fact of not being considered for a job. Human Resources departments are increasingly reviewing candidates' social media accounts.

Yes, there is surveillance of all kinds in virtual spaces, so you have to be extremely careful with our information that circulates on the network. If it leaves a trace, it is very difficult to erase it. It doesn't matter who we are: "The mere existence of data makes us vulnerable", assures Marta Peirano, writer, journalist and founder of CryptoParty Berlin, an initiative around privacy and security issues on the Internet. 

Establish a font guide:

The false information, misnamed Fake News (because if they are false, they are not news), they are a global problem and there are all kinds of them. Knowing how to avoid them, or not fall into them, is one of the greatest challenges that anyone faces in the digital environment, not even digital natives are spared. Growing up in a digital environment is not synonymous with immunity. False information exists in matters of health, economy, politics, entertainment or whatever you imagine, so a fundamental exercise is to create a list of official and unofficial sources (the latter can be the media, non-governmental organizations or even people, opinion leaders).

This selection can occur depending on different factors, such as your topics of interest or places of residence and work. For example, monitor (follow) the publications of the mayor of the city where you live. Regardless of whether or not you are a supporter of the government of the day, it is the authority of that territory and where official and interesting information will come from, such as curfews (so frequent during the pandemic), vaccination plan, calls for employment or study , as well as specific benefits for residents.

Again, if you are clear on the answer to the initial question, you will know what type of sources to start looking for. Each user's path is different, so there is no magic recipe for everyone.

Set hours and limits:

Last but not least, there is great difficulty for all users, from those who entered the digital environment in the early days of the Internet, to new users: the consumption of social networks and other services on the network generates chemical reactions, such as those that produce chocolate or sex, that is why it becomes addictive and dangerous if limits are not established, both for working on the Internet, for studying or for fun.

The first filter, the first safety barrier is each person and the limits they establish. Then you can support yourself with aids such as reminders or measuring screen time, with the commitment not to increase the percentage of use of your devices.

If you have questions about Digital Citizenship, do not hesitate to share them in the community of I am Digital Colombia.