While the web is an awesome place to learn and to have fun, you can never be too careful. Dangerous and compromising situations are out there, and it is important to learn the basics of protecting yourself, your family, your identity, your finances, and your reputation.
The main rules of any internet experience…
Protect your your identify at all times. Never share or post details that could reveal who you are, where you go or when you’re going, where you live, who you hang out with etc. Sometimes an innocent post about going to football game where you reveal the name of the town or school can make it easy for an internet predator or someone else to find and/or hurt you. Pictures that include street signs, school names, businesses, landmarks, or even uniforms with team names or logos can reveal too much information to be safe.
- Always use an e-mail account or username that does not reveal your name or location.
- Never share your usernames or passwords with anyone—friend or not….
- Remember that a person can be anyone he or she wants to be on the internet. It is easy to disguise who you really are. For example, a great looking, clean cut college student can turn out to be a middle-aged registered sex offender.
- Avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable or go against you or your family’s personal values.
- Report “things” that are threatening or harmful to yourself or others to your parents, school, or law enforcement agency.
Install and run anti-virus and spyware detection programs to keep yourself and your computer safe. Understand copyright laws and do not download games, programs, movies, music illegally. Even if the site says it is free, use common sense. If you would have to pay for it somewhere else, chances are it is an illegal site. You can be prosecuted and have to pay fines or even face jail time.
Social Networking Safety...
- If you put something on the internet, remember that it is there to stay forever. Even things that are later removed can be found by the right person or software. Don’t post anything on your site that you wouldn’t want a parent, teacher, or employer to read. Universities, scholarship committees, employers, and parents are conducting their own in-depth searches or paying internet detectives to look at what you have posted or created on the web. When in doubt, don’t post it!!!
- Set all social networking pages to “private,” not public where anyone can search for and find you. Don’t invite people into your internet “friends” or circle unless you know and trust them in the real world. Never mistake strangers as friends!
- In social networking situations like My Space or Facebook, you are only as safe as your safest “friend” in your network. While you protect your personal information, he or she may not, and what they reveal may make it easier for someone to find or hurt you.
- If someone posts things that are meant to bully, harass, or threaten you, report it immediately to the social networking sites. They have rules and consequences for these types of actions. You should also report if someone creates an account or page that pretends to be you or uses your personal information. Serious potential threats to you or others should always be reported to a trusted adult or law enforcement agency.
To learn more about internet safety, explore these sites...
Real Life Videos and Stories from Netsmartz
Most social networking sites also have sections that discuss safety.
To report cyberbullying, crimes or other concerns...