Online Safety: Smart Surfing!

How could we live without devices that allow us to go online, our laptops, smartphones and other? That’s how most of us take pictures, do our homework, find out the latest news, do research, keep in touch with family and friends and even shop.

But besides the things to do and millions of sites to visit, going online offers lots of ways to waste time, and even get into trouble. And just as in the real world, some people you encounter online might try to take advantage of you or harass or threaten you (called cyberbullying) or steal your personal information.

You’ve probably heard stories about people who, for something they did online, got into trouble. Because users can easily remain anonymous, some of the most popular messaging apps and websites might attract adults who pretend to be kids or teens. They’ll sometimes ask visitors for information about themselves, their families, pictures or where they live — information that shouldn’t be given away.

Usually, the people who request personal information like phone numbers, home addresses and email addresses use this information to fill answering machines and mailboxes with advertisements. In some cases, predators may use this information to begin indecent or illegal relationships or to harm a person or family.

  • Smart Surfing: First Rule!

Check your mood! If you feeling angry or upset, then this is not the time to be posting or messaging on a social media site. People don’t always think straight or make good decisions when they’re upset or stressed out. If you have to, go for a run or call someone instead, before you start venting online.

  • Smart Surfing: Second Rule!

Try to remain as anonymous as possible, when you’re on a website, which means keeping all private information private. Here are some examples of private information that you should never allow the public to see:

  • your full name, names of family members
  • any type of photograph (even of your pet!)
  • your current location (GPS apps built in your smartphone, may need to be turned off)
  • address of any of your friends and family, home or school address
  • phone numbers, passwords
  • Social Security number, Credit Card numbers

Think carefully before you create an screen name or email address. Web experts recommend that you use a combination of numbers and letters in both — and that you don’t identify whether you’re female or male.

Finally, remember that any text messages or picture that you send could become public or ”leaked”, as soon as you hit send. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so think twice about whether the pictures you’re about to share or the words you’ve written are ones that you would want other people seeing or reading.

A good rule, recommended by Family Kickstart Georgia (FKSG), is that if you wouldn’t want your grandmother to read it or see it, you probably shouldn’t post it or send it.

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