Let's Deal with Cyber-Safety
Most youth live virtually! You know about bad stuff, like bullying and teen suicides that have been associated with social interaction on the Internet. The Internet is great for many reasons, but being aware of – and avoiding – its dangerous side will help you escape potential risks that could ruin your life. You might think you’re safe from these risks, but you’re not always protected. Predators are real, and they look for teens who might be struggling with a problem like a breakup or a family fight. Don’t let a manageable problem become a threat to your safety.
Be aware of your digital footprint. In a world where social media has become so popular, it is important for you to protect your online reputation—and your safety! While you should always be careful because coaches, employers, and college admissions officers are monitoring your digital footprint, you should also be careful because Internet predators are looking for you. Often, Internet predators build trust through deceptive friendships (pretending to have similar interests, pretending to enjoy similar games, and pretending to have a genuine interest in you). You can protect yourself by avoiding friendships with online strangers. You can also protect yourself from being a victim by telling your parents or a trusted adult if you have been talking with an Internet stranger.
Top Tips for Internet Safety
- Spend more time with real life friends than virtual friends.
- Tell an adult if someone harasses you online. Examples of harassment include someone online asking you repeatedly for pictures, personal information, and requests you to say or do things online or in real life that you know are not okay.
- Cut off contact with anyone who tries to get personal information about you or your family, including your address and phone number.
- Don’t trust anyone who tries to turn you against your family while telling you they’re your friend (gifts, compliments, and love that comes with possessiveness and criticism of your parents are often tactics used by predators).
- Do NOT exchange pictures with strangers through the Internet.
- Do NOT open texts, e-mails, instant messages, or download attachments from people you don’t know.
- Do NOT fill out your information to win free stuff or anything else.
- Do NOT go to meet someone you don’t already know in real life.
The key is to protect yourself while online.
To learn more about Internet safety, visit Helen DeVos Children's Hospital website.