Tips for Tweens and Teens
probably learned a long list of important safety and privacy lessons already:
Look both ways before crossing the street; buckle up; hide your diary where your
nosy brother canít find it; donít talk to strangers.
The Federal Trade Commission, the nationís consumer protection agency, is
urging kids to add one more lesson to the list: Donít post information about
yourself online that you donít want the whole world to know. The Internet is
the worldís biggest information exchange: many more people could see your
information than you intend, including your parents, your teachers, your
employer, the police ó and strangers, some of whom could be dangerous.
Social networking sites have added a new factor to the ďfriends of friendsĒ
equation. By providing information about yourself and using blogs, chat rooms,
email, or instant messaging, you can communicate, either within a limited
community, or with the world at large. But while the sites can increase your
circle of friends, they also can increase your exposure to people who have
less-than-friendly intentions. Youíve heard the stories about people who were
stalked by someone they met online, had their identity stolen, or had their
Safetyís at Stake
about how different sites work before deciding to join a site. Some sites
will allow only a defined community of users to access posted content;
others allow anyone and everyone to view postings.
about keeping some control over the information you post. Consider
restricting access to your page to a select group of people, for example,
your friends from school, your club, your team, your community groups, or
your information to yourself. Donít post your full name, Social Security
number, address, phone number, or bank and credit card account numbers ó
and donít post other peopleís information, either. Be cautious about
posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you
offline. This could include the name of your school, sports team, clubs, and
where you work or hang out.
sure your screen name doesnít say too much about you. Donít use your
name, your age, or your hometown. Even if you think your screen name makes
you anonymous, it doesnít take a genius to combine clues to figure out who
you are and where you can be found.
only information that you are comfortable with others seeing ó and knowing
ó about you. Many people can see your page, including your parents, your
teachers, the police, the college you might want to apply to next year, or
the job you might want to apply for in five years.
that once you post information online, you canít take it back. Even if you
delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other peopleís
not posting your photo. It can be altered and broadcast in ways you may not
be happy about. If you do post one, ask yourself whether itís one your mom
would display in the living room.
with strangers online could have serious consequences. Because some people
lie about who they really are, you never really know who youíre dealing
wary if a new online friend wants to meet you in person. Before you decide
to meet someone, do your research: Ask whether any of your friends know the
person, and see what background you can dig up through online search
engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart about it: Meet in a public
place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell an adult or a
responsible sibling where youíre going, and when you expect to be back.
your gut if you have suspicions. If you feel threatened by someone or
uncomfortable because of something online, tell an adult you trust and
report it to the police and the social networking site. You could end up
preventing someone else from becoming a victim.