Staying safe not only applies to your physical well-being, but it can also apply to your virtual life as well. The World Wide Web is chock full of fun and interesting websites, social networking, and chat rooms where you might be tempted to talk to people you do not know. Being careful while using the Internet is something every computer user should know about and fully understand, and this especially applies to teenagers. With the risk of identity theft, sexual predators, and other crimes at an all-time high, it’s more vital than ever before to know some basics of remaining safe while online. Teens should be especially careful and remember that not everyone in the virtual world is who they say they are.
Why You Should Beware Online
Remember that talking to other people online does not always mean the person is who they say they are. A lot of people online are looking for ways to get your credit card information or other essential tidbits about you in order to steal your identity or make unauthorized purchases using your personal information. That fellow 16-year old you’ve been chatting with might actually be a 40-year old con artist or even worse, a sexual predator. You just never know who is on the other end of that computer, so be very cautious. There are just a few simple rules everyone should follow that can make surfing the net fun and safe at the same time.
Tips for Staying Safe
- Always surf on secure sites. Do not enter your information on websites that are not secured. They should begin with https to indicate they are on a secured server. These types of websites indicate that your information is encrypted and cannot be hacked by another user.
- Do not talk to strangers in chat online. Never speak to people you do not know personally online. If you do, you might end up engaging them in a conversation where they begin to ask questions about you which may lead to giving away too much information.
- If you feel as if you’re being threatened online, report it to the authorities immediately and try to “save” the conversation in a file to use if needed. Never let someone threaten you online or say things that indicate that they would try to cause you harm. Simply exit the conversation and then report it.
- Never under any circumstance give your social security number to a website unless it’s a trusted one that has been approved by a parent. Many online sites “phish” for this sort of information so they can steal your identity.
- Do not give your passwords out, and never write it down somewhere where it can be seen or stolen. Keep passwords safe and secure.
- Be sure you never give away your address or even your personal nickname online; strangers look for clues like this in order to steal your identity. When filling out forms online, be sure it’s a secure form and that you delete all cookies afterwards.
- If you witness or come across any illegal activity such as child **** online, be sure to report it immediately. There are laws put in place that help to keep others safe from this type of activity, and it’s through reporting it to others that law enforcement can crack down on it.
- Do not encourage friends or others to insult or taunt other people on social networking websites. This can lead to serious repercussions, and has been known to contribute to suicide for some teens. If you see someone harassing someone else, let the website webmaster know about it.
- Always log out of websites you sign into when you are finished using them. This way, no one can hack into the site and try to steal information or get in under your user name.
- Never agree to meet someone in person that you “met” online without knowing who they are beforehand.
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