A Kids’/Teens’ Guide to Internet Safety

Surfing With Internet Safety

Internet Safety is always something to consider when surfing the Internet.  The Internet is an incredibly cool place where you can enjoy endless entertainment.  You can find the answer to almost any question you could ask.  With these seemingly unimaginable amounts of media outlets available, and more being created every day.  It is more important now than ever to know how to protect yourself when browsing the Web.  Whether you’re doing research for school, shopping online, or talking to friends on social media.  There is always a risk for danger on the Internet. Here are some warning signs to watch out for.  Also some tips to protect yourself while still enjoying your time online.

What are the Warning Signs for Danger?

There are many dangers on the Internet.  Ranging from creepy people in your DMs to poorly protected sites trying to steal your personal information. First, let’s discuss social media dangers. Social media has become increasingly popular over the last decade and draws in a very young demographic; one that some people want to take advantage of. When using social media, it is incredibly important to pay attention to the people you are following and interacting with.  If anyone ever asks you questions about your personal information (including your name, age, address, email address, etc.).  Moreover, you should immediately be wary of that person.  People who send you strange links are also smart to avoid.  They are likely trying to get your information in a more secretive way.

Other dangers include sites disguised as normal.  These safe sites are either trying to steal your information themselves.  They are poorly protected and don’t stop others from taking your information.  Some popular examples include online retail stores such as Wish (I’ve had my own information likely stolen from this site).  Websites that use Adobe Flash as a browser addon.  These can contain many different types of viruses that can ruin your computer .  They can even start collecting your information without you even knowing.  Fake social media accounts that send out links by the hundreds.  This is to scam unsuspecting people into giving out their information for products or services.  These products and services are not what they seem or never even arrive when ordered.  Generally, if a website or person on social media seems unsafe or fishy it probably is.  Trust your gut.

What Should You Do If You Feel Unsafe?

We’ll start with social media again. The first step to take if you feel unsafe on social media is to block the person who makes you feel unsafe. Even if that person isn’t directly talking to you, if their posts make you feel like they aren’t real or are making posts that you aren’t comfortable with feel free to block them. The block option on every social media should be your favorite because without it you can’t stay safe. Besides the dangers of people stealing your information for any reason, people who post inappropriately or intending to trigger people are not people you want to interact with.

To prevent feeling unsafe on social media, some things to remember are: never post your personal information (remember this includes your name, age, address/location, email address, etc.), any picture you post or share privately could end up anywhere, and posts are never truly deleted. Keeping all of this in mind will protect you from people who want to harm you and will give both you and your parents some peace of mind. Social media is meant to be fun and entertaining but the only way to keep it like that is to enjoy it safely.

Surf the Web Consciously With Internet Safety

To prevent feeling unsafe any website, not just social media, here are some good things to keep in mind. If you look at the address bar on the top of this website, you should see a padlock next to the website. If you click on it, you should see that your connection to the site is secure; this is a good sign to watch for when entering any site that you aren’t familiar with. These sites are protected well and aren’t going to take any information or put any dangerous files on your computer.

Some other things to look for when entering an unfamiliar website are what website builder the website was created on (think Wix, Square Space, or Word Press), any social media links on the website to the creators or owners of the site (if these seem legit then that’s a good sign the website is safe), and whether the properties of a link match up with what the sender claims they should be.

If you receive a hyperlink from someone, you can right click the link to check its properties and see if it will send you where the person who sent it says it should go. If this doesn’t match up, don’t click the link and remember what to do when someone does something like that to you on social media (that block button really should be your best friend, you won’t hurt a scammer or robot’s feelings).

Common Sense and Have Fun

The one thing you should always remember is that if a site or person seems unsafe, they probably are. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are. Keeping all of these warning signs and tips in mind will help you stay safe so you can enjoy the Internet without fear and have fun. If you are ever unsure about a website, you can always look it up and see what others say about it; if everybody says it’s not safe then it’s best to avoid it. Use your common sense and even if the website or person is safe that does not mean you have to continue interacting with it.  Always take into account of Internet Safety when surfing the Internet.

Links I consulted:

WhatIsMyIp.com Questions and Answers Relating to Internet Safety
Staying Safe Online - SafetyNetKids.org
5 Simple Ways to Tell if a Website is Safe - Travel Start Blog
Most Dangerous Places on the Web - PCWorld.com
How to Identify and Protect Yourself from an Unsafe Website - BU.edu