Basic Internet Safety
DO NOT GIVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMATION. Your address is among the wealth of information available to everybody on the Internet, so do not give strangers clues to find you. Keep everything as general as possible; for example, use the largest metropolitan area as your location on social networking sites instead of your actual town or suburb. Providing the name of your high school and talking about the sports you play can let a stranger know where you will be and where to look for you. It also gives someone who would steal your identity less to work with.
DO NOT GIVE OTHERS YOUR PASSWORD. While it is great to share everything with your best friend, passwords should be kept secret. If no one else knows it, the chances that someone will pretend to be you on your phone or Facebook page drop dramatically. The fact that most technology is password-protected is a clear signal that privacy is important. If you even suspect someone knows your password, get a new one immediately. Friendships do change over time, and what begins as a joke between friends online can have devastating consequences if you are not careful. So be careful.
CHOOSE A PASSWORD THAT YOUR FRIENDS CANNOT GUESS. Your pet's name is probably not the best password; nor is your favorite band. Anyone who knows you well (or used to) can figure this kind of password out and log on as you. Pick something harder to guess but easy to remember. For example, the name of your favorite elementary school teacher and the year you finished, or the location and year of the first vacation you took, would be easy to recall but hard for someone else to figure out.
DO NOT "FRIEND" OR COMMUNICATE WITH ANYONE YOU DO NOT KNOW IN PERSON. Although the dangers of meeting strangers in chat rooms may be fading, the advice about not talking to strangers still holds true. If you do not actually know the person, do not friend him or her. Newer social networking sites present the same potential for people to misrepresent themselves and lure you into dangerous situations. Maintaining your privacy settings is also essential for keeping away those who would harm you. If a stranger approached you on the street, you would not immediately tell him or her who your friends are, what you do for fun, or other details of your personal life, so do not do it online.
NEVER AGREE TO MEET SOMEONE YOU ONLY KNOW ONLINE OR BARELY KNOW. This advice still holds true. If you do not know someone well, do not agree to meet him or her alone. Also, watch for other signs of danger, such as an online "friend" who does not want you to tell anybody about him or her, asks you to send pictures, etc. You can avoid the entire issue by maintaining the same friendships online that you have in real life.
WHAT IS CYBERBULLYING?
- Logging onto an account as someone else without permission
- Sending hostile, threatening, hurtful, or insulting messages
- Setting up or participating in "popularity polls" or other questionnaires to rate or rank peers
- Creating an account (email, social networking, etc.) as someone else and using it to send messages
- Posting revealing or embarrassing pictures of someone without their consent
- Forwarding a conversation without the other person's permission
- Signing someone up for something online without their knowledge
- Using information found online to harass or humiliate
- Not revealing your identity when chatting, making people "guess", or intentionally representing yourself as someone else
- Spreading images or messages that embarrass people
Online Resources - More information about Cyberbullying
This information is provided with permission by The Josephson Institute.