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Your Life Online

What you should know before you send your next text or update your status online.

Safer Surfing: 5 Tips continued...

Also be careful about posting mean or embarrassing things about someone else. Think about how you'd feel if someone said those things about you in public. Know that you could get in a lot of trouble if the person you're harassing tells their parents or the police.

3. Be alert. If someone online compliments you or asks questions about what you're wearing, watch out. These are ways that people use to test whether you'll be open to sexual contact, Wolak says.

If a person is saying things to you online that make you nervous, block that person or leave the site. Tell your parent or school counselor what happened, or go to the police. Do the same thing if anyone is harassing or bullying you online. You can also report any incidents on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children's CyberTipline.

4. Pick your pictures carefully. Don't post any pictures that you wouldn't want your mother or father to see. That includes pictures of you in a bikini or doing something illegal like drinking or smoking pot. If you do take a picture like that, delete it right away.

5. Keep your cyberfriends in cyberspace. Don't agree to meet anyone you don't know in the real world. If you do set up a meeting, tell your parents about it. Meet in a public place, like a coffee shop or mall. Have a friend or parent come with you.

After her experience, Amanda gave up the Internet for a while. Now she's surfing the net again, but much more cautiously. She warns teens not to make the same mistakes she did. "You've got to be careful," she says. "Don't give out so much information… If the person knows your whole name and where you go to school, they can show up at any time."

"If you want to meet somebody, talk to your parents," Amanda says. Better yet, stay home and hang out with your friends from school.

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Reviewed on November 07, 2010

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