Friday November 8 has been earmarked around the world as World Day Without Wi-Fi, where people across the globe are encouraged to go without any Wi-Fi connections, for a day, in the hopes of raising awareness around the risks associated with the wireless connection.
However, it should be more than just that – as it should also be a call to action for people to try take a day offline to reboot themselves, physically, mentally and emotionally. We all love the information superhighway – but like all traffic related analogies, this highway is getting more congested and more challenging to navigate.
Taking some time out, or undertaking a digital detox day, away from our constant dependency for online connections, can be incredibly freeing. No negative news, no gossip, no trolling, no living through other people’s lives – go back to a simpler time, when we made actual contact with friends and family and in some ways felt more socially integrated into a community we knew and cared about.
And if you can’t do it at work – as it just may not be feasible, with your job function and role, although it could be argued that you could still disconnect from all social media on that day and rather have catch-up coffee with some colleagues or a face-to-face meeting, for example – what about introducing this day, without Wi-Fi, into your home and family?
According to Riaan Badenhorst, general manager of Kaspersky in Africa; “If we take the fact that new global research from Kaspersky (conducted by Savanta and polling 8793 parents of children between 7 and 12 years old in 20 countries across the globe) highlights that 26% of parents worldwide have experienced children being addicted to the Internet, which we know can often lead to emotional and social isolation, or children becoming more irritable or depressed when not online, with some even sacrificing sleep time to spend an extra hour online – maybe it really is time to bring a free wireless connection day into our lives, even if it’s just for one day?”
Dr Tertia Harker, a Social Worker with a Doctorate in Psychology in private practice in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, mirrors this sentiment; “A balanced use of technology is very important, and so a commemorative day, like this, is also a healthy reminder that too much time online, can lead to internal focus shifts, where people are now becoming far too externally focused and living through other people’s lives – looking for their approval or acceptance. Furthermore, given the ease of integration that technology has in our lives today, especially with younger generations, we are seeing more children unlearning necessary interpersonal skills and experiencing far more social isolation.”
“Not being able to instantly access breaking news from around the world or watch the latest trending videos seems incomprehensible to the millions of people that have grown up using the Internet. However, this reliance is leading to a disconnection from self, which is not healthy and technology addictions are developing due to the multiple unpredictable rewards received.” adds Dr Harker. “The World Day Without Wi-Fi is a great initiative! Though I also advocate that everyone actively practice blocking out a minimum of two hours (in their waking hours) every day to go without using any technology. In doing so, people can disconnect from the ‘world out there’ and use this time to re-centre themselves by focusing on themselves and their families, reconnecting with nature, and keeping their personal energy balanced.”
Adds Badenhorst; “Our online lifestyles have developed so much in recent years that Internet usage is now constantly shifting, encompassing many different activities and situations. As a result of this need to stay connected people are often willing to take risks and neglect their own safety or wellbeing for the sake of staying online. People need to be aware that in addition to the positive side of the Internet – like e-learning or keeping in touch with friends or relatives – we also face various and serious risks online. These, if not guarded against and guided through, can affect our emotional state.”
“Those businesses, and homes, that are up for the challenge of disconnecting from all Wi-Fi connections for the day, we encourage you to do so. However, when you do go back online, remember to not only examine what security measures you have in place and ensure they are correctly adapted to keep up with the changing landscape, but also remind yourselves – and your family – that our dependence on having always on connections could be detrimental to our own mental wellbeing, so some time out every so often can be very healthy and rewarding,” concludes Badenhorst.
Kaspersky tips for securing Wi-Fi connections:
- Turn off sharing – when connecting to the Internet at a public place, you’re unlikely to want to share anything. You can turn off sharing from the system preferences or Control Panel, depending on your OS.
- Keep your Wi-Fi off when you don’t need it – even if you haven’t actively connected to a network, the Wi-Fi hardware in your device is still transmitting data between any network within range. There are security measures in place to prevent this from compromising you, however not all wireless routers are the same, and hackers are smart. If you’re just using your computer to work on a Word or Excel document, keep your Wi-Fi off.
- Use the right solutions to stay protected – even individuals who take all the possible public Wi-Fi security precautions are going to run across issues from time to time. It’s just a fact of life in this interconnected age. That’s why it’s imperative to keep a robust Internet Security Solution installed and running on all your devices that connect to Wi-Fi.
- Use a VPN – A virtual private network (VPN) connection is a must when connecting to your business through an unsecured connection, like a Wi-Fi hotspot. Even if a hacker manages to position himself in the middle of your connection, the data here will be strongly encrypted.
- Avoid using the default password – It’s easy for a hacker to find out the manufacturer’s default password for your wireless router – and then use that password to access your wireless network. So, it’s wise to change the administrator password for your wireless router at home or at work. When you are deciding on your new password, select a complex series of numbers and letters to make it strong and difficult to guess.