Internet Safety: Know How to Protect Yourself

Internet Safety: Know How to Protect Yourself

Here are some basic guidelines to consider when using the internet:

1. Never give out personal information
such as your name, address, phone number, parent information, or even school information. When you put this personal information online you have to remember that your friends are not the only people that can see the information. There are plenty of online predators who can see the personal information you are providing.

2. If you really need to put your contact information online, set your Myspace and Facebook settings to “private”
so that only close friends and family members that you have added as friends will be able to see any personal information you provide. While this is an option, keep in mind that a predator may be able to get around these settings if they are computer savvy, so it is always best to put minimal information on the web.

3. Make sure you know everyone on your buddy list.
You can minimize your risk of attracting online predators and computer viruses if you only add friends who you physically know to your Instant Messaging buddy list of Myspace account.

4. Keep your parents informed.
As teens, it is less likely that you want your parents knowing about your every waking move, but it may be a good idea to let your parents know some information about your online whereabouts. You may want to let them know that you have MySpace or Facebook accounts as a safety precaution. You may also want to talk with them if you begin receiving messages or e-mails that make you uncomfortable. This includes cyberbullying from friends, or messages from online friends about finding a place to meet in person.

5. It is never advisable to meet anyone from an online chat room or Myspace page.
If you are considering doing this you should consult with your parents and make sure that they are aware. Even if they do approve, you should make sure that you have an adult or a friend present during the meeting to ensure your safety. Remember that people can hide behind a computer screen and they are not always who they say they are.

6. It is not a good idea to put your picture online.
If you are putting pictures on the web, be careful who you send pictures to and what pictures you send. If the picture is suggestive or incriminating in any way… that can certainly put your safety in jeopardy. Rule of thumb: if you wouldn’t want your teachers, parents, or grandparents to see it… than you probably should not post it. Moreover, sometimes putting suggestive pictures online can trigger an online predator to begin contacting you. If you are going to post pictures, be careful about which ones you choose to post.

7. Don’t open emails from people you don’t know
the emails may be spam that could give your computer a virus.

8. If you ever get an e-mail message that is offensive, threatening, or vulgar, please tell your parents or counselor.
Cyber bullying is not a joke- it is a serious issue. Anytime you get messages or e-mails that make you feel uncomfortable you should tell a trusted adult.

9. Never create a password and/or username that is too obvious.
When creating usernames and even passwords, be sure to use a combination of letters and numbers and never create passwords that are too obvious.
Some examples of obvious passwords would be:
Your social security number
Your date of birth

10. Be careful what you download.
Many “free” programs or web pages often carry viruses that can harm your computer. Stick to reputable websites and think twice before you begin downloading.

11. Stop and think:
Do not post anything online that you would not want your grandmother to see/read. Also do not post anything online that could attract online predators (pictures, contact information, screen names). Also do not post anything online that is embarrassing or hurtful to others. Think before you post!


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