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Computer safety tips for students in grades 9-12

There’s probably not a day that goes by when you don’t use a computer, cell phone, iPod or similar devices. You and your friends text around the clock. Using the Internet is second nature to you by now, but it’s good to keep a few things in mind:

1. Don’t engage in “sexting,” in which you send suggestive photos or messages with your computer or phone, even on Snapchat. You could easily end up terribly embarrassed, or worse. Besides risking your reputation and friendships, you could be breaking the law if you create, forward or even save these kinds of messages.

2. Remember that once you post something online, it can’t be taken back. Even if you delete something from a site, older versions may exist and get passed around. This could be hurtful to friends and become a source of embarrassment. Keep in mind that employers, college admissions officers, coaches, teachers and the police may view your posts.

3. Trust your gut. If you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable about something online, report it to your parents, teachers, the social networking site or the police. Most of these sites have links for users to report abusive, suspicious or inappropriate behavior.

4. Don’t engage in cyberbullying. You can’t hide behind the words you type and images you post. Hurtful messages make the target feel bad and the sender look bad.

5. If you are targeted by a cyberbully, don’t react – bullies are usually looking for a reaction. Block or delete the bully. If they don’t stop, talk to your parents or teachers about it.

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