The Internet is an awesome place to find out about your interests and stay connected with friends and family. But because the Internet is so powerful, it’s easy to put yourself and those close to you at risk if you’re not careful. Here are some tips to help keep you safe while surfing the Web.
Protect Your Personal Information
● Never reveal any personal information, such as, your full name, where you live, your phone number, the name of your school, Social Security, credit card and bank account numbers to anyone. You’d be surprised how much someone can find out with just one or two pieces of information about you.
● Make sure your usernames don’t give away too much about you. Avoid using your real name, hometown, the name of a sports team you’re on, your date of birth, or anything else that could help someone find you offline.
● Don’t fill out any form that asks for any personal information without asking your parents if it’s okay first. This includes information about where you live, your phone number, the name of your school, Social Security number, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers.
● Don’t share photos of yourself, your family, your friends, or your home without asking for permission first.
● Never tell anyone (except your parents) your passwords. Websites will never ask you for your password, so don’t reply to an e-mail or message that asks you for it. Anyone who has your password can access and spread your personal information or ruin your good name by pretending to be you.
● Make sure your password is something no one would be able to guess easily. The safest passwords contain both letters and numbers. Consider changing them every few months to be sure they’re secure.
● Make yourself aware of the privacy options for any website you visit. Some sites only let other registered users see profiles and posts (sometimes users even get to pick and choose exactly who gets to see their information), while others let anyone who visits the site see everything.
● Never buy or trade anything online without asking your parents for permission first. If you’re not careful, you could end up sending money and personal information to someone who is lying about having a product they say they have. If your parents do let you use their credit card or bank information online, always make sure you’re using it on a well-known and secure site.
Be Cautious When Downloading Programs and Files
● Before downloading anything, make sure you know what it is and that it’s from a trusted source. Some downloads can contain computer viruses which could do serious damage to your computer or put your personal information at risk.
● When in doubt, check with your parents to make sure it’s okay to download something.
● Ask your parents to install anti-virus software on your computer and make sure it’s updated regularly.
Always Think Before You Click Send
● If you want private information to stay private, don’t post it online. Even if you think a message or conversation is private, the person you are talking to may share what you say to them without asking for your permission first. If you want to share something you wouldn’t want someone else to know, it’s best to do it over the phone or in person.
● Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want a parent or teacher to see. Remember that they can use the Internet, too!
● Always re-read what you write before clicking send. Since you can’t hear a person’s voice or see their body language when communicating with them online, if you aren’t careful, you could hurt someone’s feelings or make them mad (even if you didn’t mean to).
● Always be polite and respectful when talking to others online. Even though you can’t see them, you’re talking to real people with real feelings. It’s okay to have a different opinion than someone as long as you aren’t rude about it.
● If you’re not sure if you should say something online, you probably shouldn’t. Remember: Once it’s online, it’s there forever!
If Something or Someone is Making You Upset or Uncomfortable, Log Off
● Never reply to a message from someone you don’t know. If someone talks to you or gives you their personal information, you don’t have to respond or give them yours. Even if the message is addressed to you, chances are the person who sent it doesn’t really know you are. The message could even contain something scary like a computer virus.
● Never agree to meet anyone you meet online in real life without talking to your parents about it first. If someone asks to meet you but you feel uncomfortable about it, don’t feel embarrassed to tell them no.
● If someone is being mean or harassing you online, ignore them. Cyberbullies want their targets to react. If you ignore them, chances are they will get bored and stop bothering you. If they don’t stop, tell a parent. Whatever you do, don’t respond with something mean. Instead, log off and do something else like shoot hoops, go for a bike ride or take a walk until you have cooled down.
● Always take threats seriously. If someone is threatening you, someone you know or themselves, tell a parent or a teacher immediately.
● If you have any questions or concerns, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t Believe Everything You See on the Internet
● If someone or something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sometimes people pretend to be someone they’re not. Sometimes advertisements and websites aren’t truthful. The best tool to use when navigating the Internet is your common sense.
When in Doubt, Ask Your Parents for Help
● Talk to your parents about what you do and who you talk to when you go online. If they ask you not to do something or talk to someone, listen to them - they only want to keep you safe!For Parents: The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) helps you protect your children's privacy. Enforced by the Federal Trade Commission, COPPA requires websites to get parental consent before collecting or sharing information from children who are under 13 years old. Take advantage of your COPPA rights. Your child's personal information is valuable, and you can do a lot to protect it.