Staying Safe Online

Staying Safe Online
Staying safe online isn’t very different from staying safe in the real world. Let’s take a look at how you can apply the safety tips that you already know to your online activities.  Information is from the Washington Times NIE tab, “Delete Cyberbullying.”

1. Beware of strangers—When you’re outside with your friends, you wouldn’t talk to a stranger who stopped his car next to you. Be just as cautious online. It’s even easier for someone online to pretend that he or she is someone that he is not. When you’re online, only talk to people who you know and be sure never to agree to meet someone in person whom you’ve only met and chatted with online.

2. Protect your identity—In school, you don’t let other people use your name. Take the same precautions online. Make sure to protect your name, address, phone numbers, and credit card information when you are online. You never know, someone might like your identity better than their own!

3. Install locks—At home you lock your doors and windows. Do the same with your computer. Make sure that you or your parents have installed a security suite that contains anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall software, and keep it up-to-date. By using this software, you can keep unwanted people like hackers and cyber-thieves out.

4. Too good to be true—When you’re watching TV, you’ll often see commercials advertising a miracle weight loss drug. Often these claims are too good to be true. Companies and individuals use the Internet the same way. Be sure while you’re online that you stay away  from deals that seem fishy. Only provide personal information to sites you’ve contacted and after you’ve determined they are legitimate and the connection secure.

5. Show others the respect you deserve—You’ve been taught to treat others with respect, whether it’s at school, while playing a sport, or at the dinner table. It shouldn’t stop when you go online. Be respectful of others. If you wouldn’t say it in person, why say it online?

6. Expensive free stuff—Free stuff is great, if it really is free. Online you’re inundated by things that seem to be free—free software, free ring tones, free email, free screensavers, and the list goes on. Oftentimes when you download the free items, you’re also downloading malicious software that can harm your computer, track your every keystroke, and report back to thieves about every move and every transaction you’ve made. Those thieves can then take your money or even assume your identity.

7. Keep your parents in the loop—When you’re going out with friends you let your parents know who you’ll be with and when you’ll be home. Do the same online. Talk to your parents about things you see and do online. Ask them for help if you don’t know how to do  something and let them know if someone is bothering you online. Parents, ask your children to show you some of the sites they visit regularly, including their social networking pages. By being involved, you can keep an eye out for your kids, physically and virtually.

For more information about online safety or to get more information about these topics, visit the National Crime Prevention Council.