Smart Web Surfing for Teens
With the breaking news of a 15 year old Oregon girl missing after carrying on a relationship with a man she met on a social networking site, every parent should be aware of the dangers our teens are facing these days. Below are some tips from the America's Most Wanted website to help you prevent tragedies such as this.
When we join a social networking site, we are connecting to our existing friends, classmates, coworkers, family, and potentially making new friends all over the world. Most of us have seen how quick and easy it is to share our life experiences across a large group of people. Whether it’s a photo of a new baby, or a quick status update recounting the day.
But along with that casual convenience, you always have to consider what information you are putting out there, and who might be able to see it. Most of the time that includes your intended audience of online friends, but sometimes your personal information can spread out beyond your known circle. The web allows for information to travel extremely quickly, and unfortunately we can’t always control who ends up having access.
As in every situation, prevention is your best weapon, and so being aware of the dangers in others accessing your personal information means you can take the necessary steps to protect your personal information. And if you’ve got kids with active online lives, you should be sure to have a conversation with them about savvy web surfing as well.
The FTC has some plenty of great tips to help you discuss online safety with your family. While you may be well familiar with some of this advice, it’s always helpful to review these suggestions to ensure you and your family maintain healthy online habits.
- Before joining a site, think about how they handle your information. Do you need to be a registered user to view content? Does the site restrict content to a defined community?
- Maintain control over the information you post. Think about restricting access to selected people, and don’t post detailed personal information such as your address, phone number or bank information.
- Kids and teens should avoid screen names that give away too much information about them. Avoid including your age or name or other specific clues about where they can be found.
- Only post information you feel comfortable with others seeing or knowing about you. And though you may think it’s not a big deal for now, the information or photos could come back to haunt you years down the line when applying to schools or a job.
- Once you post information online, you can’t take it back. Through content aggregators and computer caches, a regrettable post you later delete could still be available on other people’s computers.
- Always trust your instincts. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable or if you feel threatened by any online interaction, you should tell an adult or report the person making threats. Online bullying and harassment is a serious issue.
Check out the FTC’s web safety site OnGuard Online for more helpful web tips for the whole family.
Don't miss the newest season of America's Most Wanted. Premiering on Lifetime Friday, December 2 at 9 pm/8c. Watch a preview.
This post was provided by the America's Most Wanted Safety Center.