There’s no doubt that the Internet, when in the wrong hands, can become a scary place where not everyone has the best of intentions. Today more than ever, teens and younger children need to learn not only how to handle strangers face-to-face, but also how to protect themselves from strangers on the Internet.
According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, 92 percent of teens report going online daily. Yet, a child sometimes doesn’t even have to communicate with a stranger directly in order to give information that could be harmful.
Talk with your child about the following nine Internet safety tips for teens and other children, to start a conversation – if you haven’t already – about the importance of protecting oneself from online strangers.
- Never post personal information online. This includes, but not limited to, cell phone numbers, home phone numbers, and your address or your current location.
- When creating a screen name, do not include personal information, such as your last name or date of birth.
- Censor your photos – they can often provide clues to personal information. For example, posting a picture of yourself in your varsity jacket can show a stranger the school you attend and the activities that interest you.
- Never send photos to people you meet online.
- Do not meet in person with someone you “met” on the Internet. If someone asks to meet you, tell a trusted adult right away.
- Don’t share your password with anyone.
- Never download or install anything onto your computer or cell phone without first checking with your parents.
- Use privacy settings. They are there for a reason.
- It’s not always strangers that you need to be cautious of – always exercise your best judgment. When in doubt, turn to a trusted adult.