Using the Internet Safely, part 1

Internet safety = Cyber safety

1. Many people use the Internet in everyday life.

  • Family and friends keep in touch using the Internet.
  • We use computers and the Internet to learn new information.
  • We also use computers for personal business like shopping or banking.
  • E-mail and digital social networking is a way for people to stay connected with family, friends, and the world around them.

2. Everyone can take actions to use the Internet more safely

  • These actions are called cyber safety.
  • Use safety practices every time you “log on” to the Internet.
  • Act responsibly when using electronic communication such as computers, smart phones or digital cameras.

3. Cybersafety means using computers and other electronic communication devices with precaution.

  • Cyber safety includes protecting personal information such as birthdates, social security numbers, and banking transactions.
  • Be careful when using social networking Internet sites such as Facebook©.
  • The following table has some words to help understand cybersafety.
Cyber-safety word Definition
Firewall A firewall helps to protect a computer from receiving dangerous or unwanted information from other computer users or websites.
Password A password is a string of letters, numbers, or symbols used to “sign in” when you start a computer program. Choose a password that is easy to remember, but not so simple that others can guess it.
Secure Certificate An SSL certificate, or secure certificate, identifies a website. The purpose of the SSL is to identify and authenticate a website. For example, an SSL certificate would indicate shoppers can trust that the website is secure and reliable.
Virus Protection Antivirus software is used to remove viruses from your computer. The purpose is to protect a computer from viruses and remove any viruses that are found. Common antivirus programs are Norton Antivirus, Kaspersky Anti-Virus, and ZoneAlarm Antivirus.

Be cyber safe

1. Suggestions for how to be cyber safe are useful to individuals with aphasia and cognitive-communication disorders.

  • Being cyber safe is also important to family members, friends and speech-language pathology clinicians.
  • No one can eliminate cyber threats completely, but by paying attention, the threat of cyber attacks can be reduced.
  • It is important to consistently use techniques to protect personal information.

2. Cyber safety do’s and don’ts to be safe on the Internet.

Good cyber safety habits

  • Use your computer in a safe place.
  • Check the virus protection on your computer and keep it updated.
  • Add a firewall to guard against unwanted cyber threats.
  • Carefully check email addresses to be sure they are legitimate.
  • Only download files from secure and safe sites
  • Keep passwords safely stored away and do not share.
  • Make a diagram of steps to help you remember how to navigate the Internet.
  • Close all computer programs at the end of each computer time.

Cyber safety don’ts

  • Do not use your computer in a public location.
  • Do not download software or applications from unknown sites.
  • Do not share your password.
  • Avoid using public computers such as in a library.

3. Make your computer easy to use to help avoid mistakes.

  • Use “add-ons” such as text readers which change the written text into voice output.
  • Enlarge the size of the text on the screen.
  • Use consistent hardware and equipment.
  • Make and use a “tip-sheet” for references to common websites.

4. Education and awareness about cyber safety are the best tools to make the Internet a safer experience.

  • Education materials about cyber safety exist on the Internet.
  • Many cyber safety websites are not useful for adults because they contain material that is written for children.
  • Some materials are difficult for individuals with aphasia or cognitive–communication disorders to read or understand.
  • Understanding the best ways to make the Internet accessible and safe for individuals with aphasia and cognitive-communication disorders is a goal.

5. As citizens of the digital world it is important to practice cyber safety to educate ourselves about cyber safe actions, and to make the Internet a friend.

Resources are available to teach people about cyber safety. These web sites may be useful to adults with aphasia and cognitive-communication disorders.

Phishing awareness unit for adults with small units of information, real-life scenarios, and comprehensive glossary of terms:

Website with cyber safety information divided into topics, games, videos, and tools:

Cyber safety course from E-learning link with an option to view material as a Powerpoint file:

Youth-focused cyber safety website; some of the materials may be appropriate for adult learners:

Tutorial on identifying fake email and websites:

Brochure with cyber safety tips for seniors in bullet-point format:

Phishing Scams in Plain English by CommonCraft (; short teaching video that combines a communicative drawing-like approach with auditory instruction:

Anti-phishing phil, an interactive game helps to teach individuals how to recognize risky websites: or

Anti-phishing phyllis, an interactive game helps users learn to spot phishing traps embedded in fraudulent email:

Definition of cyber safety and cyber threats:


The authors are indebted to members of the Aphasia Communication Enhancement Program at Western Michigan University for comments on the blog, and to all the members and student clinicians of the Aphasia Treatment Program (CSU), the Conversation Groups for Individuals Living with Aphasia and Cognitive-Communication Disorders (UP), and the Aphasia Communication Enhancement Program, from whom we have learned much about the Internet and cybersafety.

The content in this blog is the process of group interaction via the Internet; it is based on an article that appeared in the National Aphasia Association Newsletter (Fall 2011).

Photo credits

Pictures used in this blog are in the public domain. They were obtained from Google Images;; and Inspired Services (, an organization that creates accessible information for individuals with disabilities.

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