Living Life Online

Information and activities are from the NIE tab, “Living Life Online” produced by the NIE Institute in cooperation with the Federal Trade Commission.

Parents and teachers often talk about helping you stay safe, online and off. They try to teach you to think critically about what you see and hear, and make sure you have the skills you need to succeed in the 21st century. But the truth is that being a good citizen these days requires the same skills it always has: being honest and respectful of others, and treating other people the way you want to be treated.


You text, you play games, you share photos and video. You update your status, you post comments, you may spend some time in a virtual world.

Being connected online is how you live your life. And as you spend more andmore of your time there, it can be easy to over-share, embarrass yourself, mess up your computer, and possibly get messages from creepy people. The truth is that there are some risks involved in socializing, playing, and communicating online.

Whether you connect through a computer or your phone, the best tool you have to help avoid risks online is your brain. When you’re ready to post or send a message or a photo, download a file, game or program, or shop for something, stop for a second.

Think about things like:

Do you know and trust who you’re dealing with or what you’re sharing or downloading?

How will you feel if your information ends up somewhere you didn’t intend?

Asking a few key questions first can help you protect yourself, your friends, and your computer. Keep reading to find out about a few things to stop and think about before you click and connect.

QUESTION:  I posted a really funny picture today of my best friend and me. But she thinks she looks bad, and now she’s mad because it’s there forever. At least, that’s what her mom said. But that’s totally not right, right? I took it down, so it’s down. Who’s right?

ANSWER: Your friend’s mom is right. Even when you take something down from a webpage or a social networking site, it’s possible that someone else has already downloaded it. And there are ways that some people can find out what a particular page used to look like, even if it has been changed. That’s why posting something really is forever. So it’s important to think twice or three times before posting a photo or a comment. Look at it this way: Things you thought were cute or cool back when you were younger don’t seem so cute or cool to you now. Would you want your friends now to see some crazy family vacation picture of you when you were a kid? Probably not. It’s also not a great idea to post pictures of your friends without their OK. They might not be happy about what you post and it could get them in trouble with their parents, their coach, or someone else. Visit for more about socializing online.