These 12 facts about Online Safety mostly concern children using the Web. Teenagers are probably the part of the population that spends the most time on the Internet. It can be for school work, socializing, research or any other activity they choose to indulge in. However, as a teenager, it is important to keep in mind that there are risks associated with Internet use. You might face similar issues in real life but sometimes we tend to assume that the Internet is safer. It is not!
Here are 12 Online Safety tips for teenagers to keep in mind while they carry out their everyday activities online.
1. Personal Information
Don’t give out personal information without your parents permission. This means you should not share your last name, home address, school name, or telephone number. Remember, just because someone asks for information about you does not mean you have to tell them anything about yourself!
2. Social Networking
Many social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and MySpace) and blog hosting websites have minimum age requirements to signup. These requirements are there to protect you!
3. Your Username and Password Belong to You … And Only You
Don’t give your username or password to anyone. It’s just that simple. What if a friend logs on and pretends to be you, and then says something really awful and gets you in trouble? Sure, it might seem funny to the “former” friend, but it’s serious and it happens everyday. With your username and password, someone can post language that gets you expelled from school, in trouble with your parents, or even in trouble with the law. Keep your name and password private.
4. Keep away from gossip
Gossip is gossip, whether it is on the Internet or not. You should do your best to keep away from gossip since it usually leads to spreading lies and tarnishing reputations. You might think this is fine until you realize how easy it is for the tables to be turned and the focus placed on you instead. To avoid getting involved in hurtful verbal assaults, just steer clear of gossip. There’s no reason to talk about someone while they are not there and talking behind someone’s back on the Internet is the same way. Don’t be a bully.
5. Think before you click
Never click on links in messages from people you don’t know or vaguely know. These phishing emails have links that lead to websites that can lure you into giving personal information or download malware to your computer. You should even be wary with emails from people you do know if it looks or sounds suspicious. Hackers can create a malicious email that looks like it came from your best friend’s email account.
6. Don’t feed cyberbullies
If you become a victim of cyberbullying, do not give the bullies more reasons to continue attacking you. The best way to do this is by blocking them and stopping any contact you have with these individuals. Make sure that you do not respond to the hateful messages sent to you. This is adding more fuel to the fire and the situation will only get more hurtful. Two wrongs don’t make a right and you don’t want to give the bully anything to say, “See here, look what they sent ME!”
7. Online Ads
Don’t buy anything online without talking to your parents first. Some ads may try to trick you by offering free things or telling you that you have won something as a way of collecting your personal information.
8. Do not be a bystander
Are you aware of any wrong activities that your friends are involved in? Are they harassing someone on the Internet? Even if you are not part of what they are doing, the fact that you are fully aware of their activities makes it of your concern. Do not convince yourself that you have nothing to do with it. When enough voices show support against cyberbullying, it is the best way to quell harassment and digital bullying. Working together with others to put a stop to cyberbullying will come in handy if you yourself are found on the bad end of a cyber-assault.
9. Clean your profile
Go through your profile regularly and get rid of anything that you find in bad taste. You should not put such content online in the first place but if you do, make sure you delete inappropriate material from your profile. We don’t always get things right the first time, so go back and check to see what others are seeing when they look at your profiles online. If your friend tags you in a photo that you do not want to be associated with, request them to un-tag you. If you can delete it from your profile, then do so. Your online image is important and you should not portray one that will attract the wrong people into your life or affect you negatively.
10. Keep your content protected
It is important to protect your online profiles and accounts. The best way to do this is by making everything private. For any social media account that you manage, go through the area for privacy settings and get familiar with what each one of the settings does. Try to make it so that very little information is available to outsiders and don’t share too much with your so-called “friends” either. This way, strangers cannot gain access to your information.
11. Keep an eye out for online predators
If you find a person who is overly interested in you and you do not even know each other, be very wary of that person. The person might be an online predator. There is nothing cute about having an older person being interested in you. This can actually be quite dangerous. Online predators try to build a rapport with their teenage victims. It is best that you refrain from interacting with complete strangers online.
12. Talk to an adult about it
Although you might tend to think that adults know less about technology than you do, it is good to talk to them. Find an adult you can trust and talk to them about any problems you’re facing, ask questions and seek their advice and opinion. You will find that their years of experience will give them the ability to give you sound advice.