Internet Safety Tips for Kids

16856960_mOne little mistake online can haunt you for the rest of your life. A few good habits can help you stay out of trouble and keep you from doing something online that you will regret later. The internet is full of wonderful opportunities, but it can also open the door to some very dangerous places. Here are some tips that can help you stay safe and happy online.

  • Never share your passwords, even with close friends.
  • Don’t overshare. Some things should be kept private. Don’t give out your address or phone number, or other people’s addresses and phone numbers. If you or your family are going out of town, keep it to yourself. You can always share the experience online when you get back.
  • Assume that everything you post or say online is being broadcast to the entire world. Even if you think it’s a private message, others may be able to see it.
  • Once you post something, you cannot take it back. There are ways to delete or hide posts, but that does not protect you from others who may have already copied it and can spread it.
  • You never know who is watching or who may decide to look up your posts later. College recruiters and potential employers regularly research the online history of candidates, and judge them by it. What you say now could cost you your education or a job in years to come.
  • You never know who you are really talking to. People pretend online all the time. Sometimes it is just innocent fun, but sometimes it is with the intent of doing harm. That 14-year-old girl you talk to online may really be a 60-year-old man. Even if you think you are communicating with someone that you know offline, be aware that it could be an imposter.
  • Consider the source. Just because you see or read something online doesn’t make it true. If you choose to use or share what you’ve learned online, double check with reputable sources to make sure the information is accurate. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you can name the source or author. Hint: “the internet” is not a source.