As much as we would like to believe the absolute best in everybody, the internet is an unfortunately unsafe place for someone who isn’t being careful. Here are a few helpful hints and links to make sure you are being as safe as possible online.
Never give out personal information. Never assume that you are dealing with who someone says they are, especially when it comes to addresses, phone numbers or pictures. Here’s a helpful hint, if you are unsure of a person or website, just type the name into Google and search them to see what comes up. If you are unsure about something, there is a good chance that someone else already has been too.
Never post anything that you might regret later. Just because you hit the delete button doesn’t mean that it’s gone forever. Everything that has ever been posted on the internet is still there and can be found very easily. If you need to stop and think “is this a good idea?” it probably isn’t.
Don’t click on any links in emails from people you don’t know. Companies make lots of money selling email addresses to advertisers, and sometimes those addresses can end up in the wrong hands. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know, the best thing to do is delete it right away. Just clicking on a link can download a virus that can destroy your computer.
Your secret password should stay secret. As wonderful as your best friend is, your password should be something that only you and your parents know. Most of us use the same or very similar passwords for our email, Facebook and Twitter accounts, not to mention any other online groups or sites we might belong too. A good rule is to change your passwords on a regular basis, say, every 3 months or on Easter and Thanksgiving.
If you think someone is doing something they shouldn’t be, tell somebody! The best way to make sure you and your friends are being safe online is to keep an eye out for each other. If you think one of your friends is doing something they shouldn’t be, talk to someone about it. If we all protect each other, we can all be safe.
Most importantly, don’t be scared, be aware. The internet is a wonderful wealth of information that your parents and grandparents could never have dreamed of. Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have created a world where people from opposite sides of the globe can share thoughts and ideas in seconds. The internet isn’t something to fear, and most of the people using it are honest and well meaning. It’s important to make sure you are cautious while online and make sure you’re making smart, safe decisions.