Internet safety for teens: 5 useful tips to follow
The internet is an amazing service that connects us with the world. We can stream our favorite movie, learn about how to improve our health and keep in touch with friends and family across the globe. However, other people who use the internet don’t always have the best of intentions. Internet safety for teens is important, and you should know how to protect your privacy and your personal safety.
1. Protect your privacy
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an excellent reference guide for teens and their parents on how to interact safely online. An important part of being a part of a social network is protecting your privacy. Try to limit your friends or followers to people who you know in real life and block your information from others. Privacy settings on every social networking site often change frequently, so keep up with the new improvements.
The FTC also recommended disabling location services as much as possible to prevent this information from being exploited. “Checking in” broadcasts your location, and that may be unsafe. Uploaded photos can also contain geographic information if location services are enabled, which can also put you at risk. Check your settings and be safe.
2. Never share some things
There are several items that fall into the never-share category, including your Social Security number, bank account numbers, ATM PINs and passwords. These are important pieces of information to keep private.
Also, don’t share nude photos of yourself with others. According to the FTC, people who take explicit photos and videos, as well as those who share and download them, may be breaking the law and putting themselves at risk of losing friendships and other opportunities.
3. Mind what’s shared
Personal information, such as your home address and phone number, should rarely be given to people you don’t know. Don’t make plans to meet with someone you’ve never met without a parent’s permission.
Also, if you’re sharing a photo, link or video, think about who may see it. Consider how you would feel if your coach, your teacher, your grandmother or your parents saw what you were saying or sharing online. Remember: Even though you can delete your posts, consider it’s permanent once it’s out there as other people may have saved it on their computer.
4. When to get help
Anytime you feel uncomfortable with the content you’re seeing, you should show it to a trusted adult, such as your parents. If someone asks you to meet them in person or uses language that embarrasses or harasses you, report them to the site and tell your parents. Many sites provide the option to block other users who are being abusive. The FTC recommended saving the evidence — like taking a screenshot — and showing your parents or other authorities if needed.
5. What parents need
There are many helpful resources for parents interested in internet safety for teens. The North Carolina Department of Justice offers valuable tips to identify behaviors of a child who’s being victimized online. Unfortunately, victimization via the internet is too common. This online booklet from the NCDOJ can help protect children from online predators. You can also learn more about preventing cyberbullying at stopbullying.gov.
Image source: Flickr