It's a wild world out there, and it can be especially dangerous for teens who are not yet equipped with the life experience necessary to protect themselves from the unknown. The Internet is no exception, as it presents a multitude of risky situations to teenagers from the seeming safety of “virtual” reality. What many teenagers don't realize is that what happens on the Internet does not just stay on the Internet; it pervades real life and can cause some serious real life damage. Fortunately, there are some basic precautions teenagers can take to avoid some of the web's common pitfalls. Here are some Internet safety tips for teens.
Watch what you share. Think twice before posting any personal information on social networking sites. You never know who might get a hold of that information. For example, never post your home address or personal telephone number; your friends should have that information already, and no one else needs to know. Also, don't ever post about going on a vacation, as it is not a good idea to let the whole world know when your house will be empty, and for how long.
Site safety. Most creditable companies won't ask for your social security number or credit card information without first verifying that they are who they say they are. When in doubt, ask an adult to research the company for you. Don't ever just assume that a site is safe – especially a site that is asking for sensitive information.
Virtual strangers. It can be easy to feel that you are getting to know people you've never even met when you share conversations with them online, and the ease of Internet chat rooms makes sharing intimate conversations with virtual strangers a commonplace occurrence. However, it is never safe to assume that you know any more about the people on the other end of that chat than they want you to know. Keep in mind that the Internet is full of predators pretending to be people they aren't – and they are preying on people like you, who might be too young to be suspicious. To protect your safety, don't ever give out personal information in a chat room, or even in a private chat with someone you don't know in real life, and never agree to meet someone from the Internet privately.
As a teenager, it is important that you are especially cautious when it comes to using the Internet. There are a lot of predators out there, waiting to take advantage of teens who only take things at face value, so you owe it to yourself (and to your family) to approach virtual reality with a suspicious eye and an interrogative mind.
About the Author: Ernie Bruley has 3 teens, all of whom had to listen to his safety lecture before they were allowed to use the web. Ernie is a computer pro who installs hard drive recovery software and makes simple home repairs.