Searching, tweeting, emailing, texting, and lots of other things online are great fun and helpful. However, there is potential for some situations to become dangerous or illegal. Ignoring these situations usually make them worse. CyberSmart, a website from Australia, recently published a wonderful series of articles about protecting yourself and others on the internet. The eighth article in this series is about Online Friends.
Chatting to friends using IM, in chat rooms and on social networking sites can be great ways to keep up to date. Meeting new friends online is also pretty fun, and you can meet people online that like the same movies or sports as you.
But while there are lots of good points about keeping in touch with online friends, there are also some risks with meeting people online—especially if you don’t know them in real life.
To help stay safe while you chat, remember some simple tips:
- Be careful who you trust online. A person can pretend to be someone they are not.
- Choose your friends. While it’s good to have a lot of friends, having too many makes it harder to keep an eye on who sees the stuff you post online. Don’t accept friend requests if you’re not sure about the person.
- Keep your personal details private. Use a nickname instead of your real name if you are in a site or game where there may be lots of people you don’t know. Ask your parents before giving anyone on the internet your name, address, phone number or any other personal details.
- Set your profile to private, or ask your parents to help you do this.
- Always keep your password secret. Don’t even share it with your friends.
- If you want to arrange to meet someone you’ve met online, check with a parent first and ask them to go with you. Always meet in a public place, preferably during the day.
- If someone writes something rude, scary or something you don’t like, tell your parents or another adult you trust.