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Teenangels / Internet Safety / Online Safety Tips for Kids (10 and Under)

Online Safety Tips for Kids (10 and under)

1. You've heard your parents say, "Don't talk to strangers." The same rule should be used when you are chatting online. Don't talk to people you don't know online unless you know them off-line. Remember, people online are not your friends, just people you chat with. Here is a kid-safe chat room:

2. Just as your parents tell you not to spend too much time in front of the TV, you shouldn't spend a lot of time on the computer. To grow up healthy and strong, kids need lots of exercise.

Make sure that you spend time exercising, going outside to play, and being with your friends. Make sure you don't spend so much time online that it interferes with your other activities (homework, friends, clubs, sports teams, etc.). You should see real clouds rather than those on the Windows desktop.

3. If a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked for your personal information, you wouldn't give it to them. The same rule applies online. Don't reveal any information about who you are, or anything that can identify you. We don't recommend filling out profiles, either! Don't tell anyone online your name, where you live, what your phone number is, what school you go to, the name of your school's team, et cetera. Remember, it only takes a little information to find out a whole lot about you. When you fill out a profile, make sure you keep it simple and don't reveal too much information about yourself. Strangers can easily access these, too.

4. You don't have to talk or respond to everyone who e-mails you or sends you an instant message. Don't think it is rude or impolite to ignore them. If you receive something that makes you uncomfortable, tell someone, and if you're in a chat room, leave immediately. If you receive a disturbing e-mail or IM, print it out and/or save a copy and tell your parents or a teacher. Remember that it's not your fault and that you didn't do anything wrong to receive the bad messages.

5. Just as you have manners at the dinner table and in everyday life, you should be polite online. Being polite in cyberspace is learning and acting out the rules of Netiquette. Know the rules of whatever area you are in and try to follow them. Don't be rude to other members or people who are new to the Internet, don't type in all caps (it's online shouting), don't SPAM (send the same message over and over), don't ever get involved in or provoke flaming (online fights). Know good Netiquette. You should always respect other people. Don't do or say anything online that you wouldn't in real life. Don't take flaming personally - people are going to say stuff that isn't very nice, so just ignore it.

6. Do you open mail that is not addressed to you or that is from someone you don't know? Even if mail from an unknown source is addressed to you, the person sending it probably doesn't know your age or who you are. They may be sending you junk mail that you don't need or want. Likewise, don't open any e-mail or download anything from people you don't know, because it may contain viruses. Viruses can destroy your computer and are a pain to deal with. Check with your parents before you download anything. Don't ever reply to mail from an unknown source. You don't talk to strangers in real life, so why would you read mail from them online?

7. Don't ever reveal your password to anyone (except your parents), not even to your best friend. Whoever has your password can change your profile, your account, your password, et cetera. People can then access your private information, such as your full name, address, phone number, or credit card information.

8. You may trade baseball cards or clothes with a friend. You may go to the store with your parents and buy something to eat. However, you don't usually trade things with people you've never met, and you probably don't buy things without your parents' permission. Likewise, kids should not be trading or buying things over the Internet no matter how good the offer may seem or the product may look - you never know if the other person is for real, if they are telling the truth, or if they really have the thing you want to buy. Don't do anything or click on anything that may cost money without your parents' permission and supervision. Never give out your parents' credit card information.

9. If I told you that the sky was green, that money grew on trees, or that I was Elvis, would you believe me? Chances are, you'd be smart enough to know that I was lying and you'd probably ignore me. Sometimes, however, it's not as easy to tell whether or not someone is lying. Therefore, don't believe everything you hear, read, or see on the Internet. Advertisements may not be true. Web sites are easily made to fool you - they can be misleading and contain information that is wrong or prejudicial. You don't know whom you are talking to or if they are telling the truth. Remember, you just see a name on the screen - you don't know the person behind the computer on the other end. Just as people may not be honest in real life, they may not be honest online either.

10. I'm sure you've heard about the Colorado shooting and the Oklahoma City bombing. Though you may think this can never happen to you, it can. In fact, it is possible that you will receive scary threats of bombs, guns, or suicide. Never take these as a joke. They are very serious! If you EVER find anyone sending or making threats, threatening to commit suicide, or talking about bombs or guns, make sure you tell your parents or teacher immediately. You could save everyone!

11. You shouldn't be joining mailing lists or subscribing to anything without your parents' permission and supervision. If you do join a list, and you are asked for your phone number or address, make one up. There's no reason for them to know your personal information if everything they send you is over the Internet. If they need to contact you, they can send you an e-mail.

12. When you are mad at your parents, not happy at home, mad about school, feel like complaining, or you have had a fight with your friends, you should go to an older sibling, a family member, a friend, or a teacher. The Internet may not be the best place to vent your feelings. There are also helplines that you can call to talk to someone about serious problems.

13. If someone asks for your picture, just tell them that you don't have a scanner or you don't have a picture. You shouldn't be sending your picture over the Internet.

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