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Teenangels / Internet Safety / Online Safety Tips for Teens

Online Safety Tips for Teens

1. Never give your password out. If someone gains access to your password they can read your mail, buy stuff with your credit card information, and obtain personal and identifiable information. They can change your profile, play pranks using your name, and possibly get you kicked off your service. They can also change your password and lock you out of your account.

Choose a password that is easy for you to remember but cannot be easily guessed. You may want to change your password frequently, at least once a month (but make sure you write it down so you don't forget). Be careful if someone is watching you enter your password - they may look over your shoulder and steal it. He/she who controls the password controls everything.

2. Never give out any information that will allow someone to find you off-line. Information such as the school you attend, the teams you are on, the place where you work, your address, your telephone number, or your detailed description when linked with other information can help someone find you if they are looking very hard.

Be careful where else you put information that is publicly accessible, such as school and personal web sites, friends' web sites, profiles, and ICQ registries.

Don't use your full name online (first and last). You may even want to be careful before you use your real first name. Your name, when linked with other information, can allow someone to find you.

3. When choosing a screen name, you should consider not using your whole or part of your real name. Don't choose one that is provocative (flirtatious, vulgar, etc.). You should choose a screen name that is easy to remember.

4. Make sure that you have an anti virus program. Your program is only as good as how frequently you update it, since new viruses are spread around every day. You should also have a utility or first-aid program that checks all your files for defects and viruses. Be careful not to delete any programs or files that you need.

5. Never meet people in real life whom you meet on the Internet. If you insist on breaking this rule, make sure that you tell someone you trust whom you are meeting and any information that you know about this person. If you don't feel comfortable telling someone this person's personal information, you might want to seal the information in an envelope and tell someone to open it only if you are not home by a specific time.

Tell someone you trust where you are going and when. Before you go, talk to this person on the phone, and maybe have your parents speak to their parents. When you call, make sure that you block your phone number from caller ID (by dialing *67) or call from a pay phone.

Talk to a friend and have them look at some of your conversations to see if they pick up on anything misleading that you missed.

Make sure that you meet in a very public place. Bring along someone that you trust (preferably an adult) and keep your first couple of meetings to a minimum.

When you leave, don't go straight home; go to another public place and make sure that you are not being followed. Don't be afraid or embarrassed to say no.

6. Never open e-mail with an attachment from an address that you don't know. It may contain a virus or worm that can destroy your computer. Never download anything from someone you don't know or an unreliable source.

If you receive an attachment from someone you do know, make sure you run it through an anti virus program.

If you get a regular e-mail from someone you don't know, just delete it; don't reply to it, because it could be from a hacker. Delete chain letters and SPAM Do not forward chains or "tracked" letters, because they are fake.

7. Be smart; apply common sense and good judgment. Don't let down your guard and become infatuated with people you meet online. Don't break the rules for someone. If someone seems too good to be true, they usually are. Always remain in control of the situation.

8. If you think that you are being harassed or stalked, never reply to the harasser. Make sure you let an adult know what's going on. And if you're really afraid, report it to the police.

9. Just because someone gives you their personal information or sends you an e-mail, it doesn't mean that you have to send one back, or give them your information. You are always in charge. If someone is bothering you, just sign off. You don't have to tell anyone anything that you don't want to.

10. It's easy to become addicted to or obsessed with the computer and Internet by spending too much time online. Try to maintain a healthy balance between cyberland and the real world. Remember, the Internet is a great place for learning and talking to people, but as a teen your social life shouldn't revolve around the Internet.

11. Follow chat rules. Know about the chat room before entering (is it moderated? what's the topic? what are the terms of service?). Before you start using the chat service, find out where you should report abuses. If you are using IRC, make sure that it's a safe server with safe topics, and know the rules. Know and follow proper Netiquette. Don't use offensive, vulgar, or provocative language. Don't get involved in flame matches. If something makes you uncomfortable, leave the room. If someone is doing something wrong, save the text, print it out, and report it to TOS (the people who enforce the rules). If you break the rules, be prepared to face the consequences: You risk getting a raised warning level, and/or having your service terminated.

12. Use common sense and trust your instincts. If you hear threatening remarks, threats made about bombs and guns, ALWAYS print the screen and make sure that you tell someone right away. If someone is threatening your school or your town, notify your school and/or local law enforcement. If your school doesn't have a report system, volunteer to set one up.

13. If you know a person who is dangerous to themselves, you, or someone else, tell someone. Everyone needs someone that they can go to. Even if you're not comfortable going to a college admissions - type counselor, you should talk to someone you trust who can help. While you may want to talk to them and help them yourself, you should be aware that you are just a teenager and cannot handle the weight of someone else's problems by yourself.

14. Don't believe everything that you read, hear, or see online. Advertisements may be misleading. You never know whom you are talking to or if they are telling the truth. Always remember that 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. Web sites can say anything, even if it is not true, and it can be very difficult to tell the difference. Web sites may even dispense invalid or prejudiced information. Use your common sense while on the Internet. It is your best tool in recognizing wrong information from right information.

15. If you are threatened by a hacker, turn the computer off and wait before going online again. Be careful whom you befriend online. If you are friends with a hacker, be extra careful, because they can really mess up your computer if you ever get mad at one another. Make sure you never trust anyone too much with your personal information, especially your password, because people you call friends can use it against you.

16. Be a smart consumer online. Though buying and trading online may seem like the easiest means of shopping available, you must take caution when using a credit card online. Make sure that the source is truthful and valid. Don't be foolish with your credit card or your parents' credit card (if they choose to let you use it). Never give your credit card information to any site that is not secure or where your information can be obtained by an unwanted third party. If possible, buy or trade with a well-known vendor.

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