Spend much time surfing the web? If you do, you need to be wary of things
that lurk on the dark side of the Internet. Not only are there viruses, hackers
and spammers -- online predators and a bunch of evildoers are out there just
waiting to pounce on teens in the digital world.
You have probably heard of someone’s computer being hacked, his or her
identity being stolen online, or even having some embarrassing pictures posted
"Amanda" (not her real name) was feeling overwhelmed. Her parents were preoccupied with financial worries. Her algebra teacher had assigned tons of homework. And her best friend was not speaking to her because of a fight they had a couple of days earlier. Amanda felt alone and afraid. After a particularly tough algebra exam, she felt her world was caving in. She ran into a stall in the girls' bathroom, rolled up her sleeve, and cut her left arm as hard as she could with her nails. She drew blood,...
“Nah, it can’t happen to me,” you think. Well, if you use the following
Internet safety tips, you have a good chance of being right.
1. Keep Your Online Identity Secret
Don’t tell anyone your real name and address or what neighborhood you live
in. Here’s the general rule: Don’t give out any information that a
predator could possibly use to find you. The Federal Trade Commission says that
even “small clues” like what school you attend or the name of your athletic
team is enough for a predator to figure out your identity. You wouldn’t tell
some 40-year-old man or woman you met at the mall your name and where you live,
would you? So why would you tell CoolGuy985 or HotChick16 from the chat
2. 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
3. The Internet has a Great Memory … So Keep Its Memory of You Clean
Just because the Internet is so massive does not mean that embarrassing or
risqué pictures, rude or mean comments, or illegal activities will disappear
forever. Watch what you post about yourself or others -- or allow your friends
to post about you -- because you may have to live with it for a long, long
4. Be Good Online … Just Like You Are Offline
Writing “hate” emails, hacking into other people’s computers, illegally
downloading music or movies and making online threats are just as illegal on
the Internet as they are in the real world. You cannot hide behind a screen
name and get away with it. Watch what you write -- because someone else is
watching what you write!
5. Be Extremely Careful about Meeting Someone in Person
The FBI gives an all-out blanket warning: “Never meet anyone in person that
you meet online.” That said, many teens do make good friends online. You just
have to be super-cautious and make sure other people you know and trust also
know this “new” online person.
If you do decide to meet the new person, bring your parents with you. All of
you meet together in a public area like a mall where there are tons of people
around. Ask that the person’s parents come, too. If the situation feels creepy,
it probably is creepy! Just like in the real world, trust your gut
instincts -- and walk away.