Sure, you love to surf the Internet. But are you playing it safe? Unfortunately, a lot of creeps are crawling around on the Web, and some use sneaky tactics to exploit unsuspecting kids. Here are some Internet safety tips every girl should know.
Internet Safety Tip No. 1: Know whom you’re “talking” to online. Whoa … a quarter of teen girls say they’ve met strangers online. Not cool! Many people online are harmless, but some are posers with fake identities who want to hurt kids. According to WiredSafety.org, 100 percent of children molested by Internet sexual predators went willingly to a meeting. They may have thought they were meeting a cute 14-year-old boy or girl.
Do not IM, text, email, video chat or agree to be a Facebook or MySpace friend with anyone you don’t know in real life — and never meet up with someone IRL. And don’t fall for this one: “Remember me?” If you don’t know who it is, simply ignore the friend request. That’s not rude; it’s smart.
Internet Safety Tip No. 2: Never post personal info — or pics! Do not, under any circumstances, put your full name, address, phone number, school or any other identifying information in an email or online post. Also, be sure your social networking pages are set to “private,” and only share wall posts and photos with family and friends.
If you have pics available online, anybodyin the world can make copies. Keep that in mind too when making choices about the nature of your photo self-portraits. A recent survey by TeenAngels, a cybersafety group, found that 20 percent of teens had sent a nude or seminude photo of themselves. Yikes!
Internet Safety Tip No. 3: Stay safe when online gaming. Sure, you dodge, dart and defend your online game character … but what about protecting your real-life self? “I was playing Halo, and one day this guy asked, ‘Do you want to meet at the mall?’” says one respondent in another TeenAngels survey. Here’s a crash course in cybersafety self-defense: