You use computers to do work at school and to play games at home. You might have friends who use cell phones or smart phones to send messages to other people. While these things can be fun, helpful, or both, it’s also important to keep a few things in mind if you use these.
1. If you have a profile on Facebook or other similar sites, set it to “private”. Only add people to your friends list that you actually know.
2. If you are too young to be on a site, don’t lie about your age to join.
3. Tell a teacher, parent, coach or other trusted adult if anyone online asks for your picture, asks if you are alone, talks about sex or wants to meet you in person.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.