(Adapted from Welcome to the Internet: Online Safety from Love146)
The internet is a great place. It is where we find funny dog videos, new recipes, and keep in touch with that one person from middle school that we kinda-maybe remember. The internet lets us connect with lots of people, but it is important to remember that interacting with people online can get complicated.
Here are some helpful tips and tricks to keep yourself safe from online creepers:
1. DON'T TRUST THE DEFAULT PRIVACY SETTINGS
Think of it this way: When you’re hanging out online it’s like being in your own room. But if you want privacy in your room, you can shut your door. Unfortunately, most websites, social media apps, or gaming devices come to you with the door wide open so that anybody, even creeps, can chat with you. (Worst of all, sometimes it’s almost impossible to tell that they’re creeps.) But you can take steps to help keep them out. Most of these websites, apps, and games have settings that allow you to shut the door. You just need to change your privacy settings so that only your real friends can connect with you. If you need help learning how to do this, here’s a page with quick links to the privacy settings pages for common apps, websites, and gaming devices.
2. HAVE AN EXIT PLAN
If someone is bugging you or talking to you in a way you don’t like, you can unfriend or block them, and you shouldn’t hesitate to! (Report them through the app, too, if something is getting really sketchy). If you’re talking to or being followed by people who aren’t your close friends, avoid posting things that reveal how to find you in real life (like the name of your school, where your soccer team practices, etc). It could also be smart to make sure that your user name or handle is different from your real name, that way if you get into a conversation that’s making you uncomfortable you can exit it without the fear of someone tracking you down.
3. BE A TINY BIT PARANOID
If you send or post a picture, you can’t always control how it’s being seen—or how it’s being shared by others. If you feel like there’s any chance that the picture could get into the wrong hands, don’t risk it, don’t share or post it.
4. STAY IN SAFE ONLINE PLACES
Just as you wouldn’t walk down dark alleys alone at night, you should avoid creepy places online and creepy apps. You could stumble on photos or videos you don’t want to see (or maybe are even illegal!), or end up connecting with people who are looking to take advantage of you. Follow your gut, and don’t walk down the alleyways of the Internet.
5. TELL SOMEONE
If you ever feel uncomfortable or think that something is sketchy, tell an adult you trust! Whether it’s a teacher, a parent or a school counsellor. It’s better to talk to someone about it now, even if it means you have to confess something you did or it’s difficult to share. If you wait it could become a bigger problem. If you’d like, you can also talk to someone anonymously by calling the CyberTipline at 1-800-843-5678.
How do you know when someone has bad intentions or is just being really friendly?
Click this link for the full article with red flag phrases, more tips, and lots of memes: https://love146.org/online-safety/
Author: Anna Pastor, CCHTTF