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Teen Health

Teen Internet Safety Tips

With a few Internet safety tips, your online experience can be amazing!
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Some Extra Words of Caution continued...

Every web site has this thing called a “privacy policy.” It will tell you how that web site uses all the personal information about you, like your name. In some cases, though, when you’re not looking, some web sites ignore their privacy policy and sell your email address to other companies. When you open your email one day, you might have 150 spam emails in your inbox as a result. If a web site is asking for too much information about you, take control and leave the site. (Again, would you give this information to some older stranger at the mall? Probably not.)

What about Nude Photos and Sex Sites?

You’ve probably come across some explicit sexual material on the Internet. That’s because pornography is big business on the web. If you come across a pornography site or get pornographic email, take control: Leave the site or delete the email. 

Remember, pornography is not real life. It's made up -- the men and women are acting. In real life, real people don't act that way with each other. There are much better ways to learn about real sex if you're curious -- like WebMD’s Teen Health Channel.           

Is It Safe to Post Photos of Myself on the Internet?

No way! In terms of bad ideas, this one tops the chart! John Shehan from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children based in Alexandria, Virginia, says that posting or emailing sexual pictures of yourself can be embarrassing -- and dangerous. “Teens quickly learn the hard way that images are forever memorialized online, and they are almost impossible to delete,” Shehan says.

If someone asks you to send them sexual pictures, be very suspicious -- and don't do it. Alert your parents. Shehan says that teens who send out one sexual picture can sometimes be blackmailed to send more, when the sexual predator threatens to post the first picture online for millions to see -- or show it to your family or friends.

How Do I Report Creepy or Illegal Things Online?

While most Internet activity is legal, occasionally you might come across something that just seems wrong, creepy or even scares you. The first thing to do is tell your parents -- just like you’d do if a creep talked dirty to you at the movies. Your parents can support you and help you make the right decisions about what to do next. If you decide to report the suspicious activity or person, there are two web sites you can go to:

  1. For computer hacking, online stealing, or similar suspicious or illegal activity, go to www.ic3.gov. Follow the instructions for how to report what you saw.
  2. For any suspicious activity involving sexual messages, someone sending you nude photos or asking you to send nude photos, someone trying to get you to do sexual things, or any other sexually related incident, go to www.cybertipline.com.

Admittedly, the Internet is completely awesome. It lets you discover an incredible new world and meet some great new friends in the next town or across the globe. Just use it with caution, since the trail you leave behind may come back to haunt you -- and your family and friends -- one day.

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Reviewed on April 01, 2007

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