The Internet can be a fun place to socialize and a good place to do research for homework. But there are also threats that lurk online. There are criminals that spend time online trying to exploit your personal information or even hurt you. They frequent social networking websites like MySpace.com trying to make contact with teens.
If you are like most teens, you feel right at home on the Internet. You already know how to have fun online, but do you know how to be safe and protect yourself from online dangers? By reading our tips and exploring this website, you can learn more and keep yourself safe.
Tips to protect yourself:
- Don't believe everything you read online, especially from someone in a chat room. It's extremely easy to lie online and predators will tell you anything to gain your trust. For example the "14-year-old girl" you just met online might actually be a 40-year-old man trying to gain your trust.
- Predators hoping to build a relationship will look for clues on what you like, who you are and where you live. Don't give out this information because it can be used to find you. Never reveal your name, address, phone number or school to someone you meet online.
- Choose a random user name or screen name. Make sure it doesn't reveal your name, age, school, location or interests. For example, the user name "CutieCougar01" might reveal to a predator that this person is likely female, a student at a school with a Cougar mascot and born in 2001.
- Do not download files a stranger has sent you. They may contain viruses or inappropriate material.
- Don't respond to messages that are mean or in any way make you feel uncomfortable. It is not your fault if you receive a message like this. Tell your parents right away so they can contact the online service provider.
- Don't view the web cam of a stranger or let a stranger view your web cam.
- Don't try to meet someone in person that you met online without checking with your parents first. If your parents agree to a meeting, make sure it is in a public place and bring one of them along. Never, ever go alone.
- Don't keep secrets from your parents about people you meet online. Predators often encourage or even threaten their victims not to tell their parents about their relationship. If this happens to you, tell your parents right away.
- Talk to your parents and try to agree on a time of day or length of time that you spend on the Internet. Talk about sites they don't want you to visit and why. Remember, they have your best interest at heart.