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The Internet is not anonymous. When you sign on, others have access to you. Your email address, screen name, and password serve as barriers between you and others. You need to maintain this barrier by not giving out private information. There are many out there who would like to know more for various reasons:
- They could want to harm you.
- They could want money.
- They could use information to conduct their own business, such as selling your info or using it in an illegal manner.
This information should not be given out on the Internet to maintain your safety:
- Phone number
- Social Security Number
- Friends’ names
- Family names
Indirect Information Solicitation
Sometimes, while online, people want to find out more about you for illegal purposes. However, they go about it in different ways. They may trick you into giving out information. You may not even realize what you have told them. Indirect information about your school, activities, etc. could lead to them knowing where you live. Be aware of what you say at all times.
User ID/Screen Name
A user ID is a “nickname” you select to identify you in email, chats, etc.
- DO NOT USE Personal Information such as:
- your real first name
- your real last name
- your location
- your zip code
- a suggestive name or word (hotbabe16@, sexyguy12@)
- obscene words
- For added security, always opt NOT to add your name/nickname to any sort of member directory.
Dangers on the Web
- Inappropriate sites – some sites can be inappropriate, hate filled, or upsetting. When you come across a site you know you should not be in, close out of it quickly by clicking on the X in the upper right hand corner of the screen, or it you still have trouble, try logging off completely or rebooting.
- Faulty information – do not trust everything you read without double-checking references.
- Private information – some websites ask you for private information before you can access their site. Do not give it out and ask your parents if you have further questions.
- Your own website – many teens have their own websites. However, you have to be careful about what information you display.
Dangers in e-mail
- Spamming – many companies advertise via e-mail. They try to entice you to purchase items, visit inappropriate sites, etc. Delete these e-mails.
- Be careful when you reply to an e-mail. You are including your e-mail address and you do not know where it will go from there.
- Inappropriate, offensive, angry e-mail should be reported to your Internet provider.
- Remember, the sender of an e-mail may not be someone you know – do not send personal information, photographs, etc.
Dangers when Chatting
Chats can result in people revealing information they would not normally reveal. This can leave you open to people who might want to harm you.
- Keep online interactions online. Do not agree to meet or phone people you met online.
- Do not give out personal information. Be careful about indirectly saying too much – like school mascot, game times, etc. Eventually you will have said enough.
- Keep your parents/guardians informed of online interactions.
- Use chat rooms that are moderated.
- Be suspicious of someone who wants to be your friend and turns you against your parents, teachers, or friends.
- Private chats are not always private. When you meet offline friends online in a private chat room, be careful. Others can often enter and lurk.
- Try to choose gender-neutral online screen names
Dangers in Newsgroups, Forums, and Bulletin Boards
- The biggest risk is in including personal information in postings. Do not reveal anything identifying about yourself.
- Realize that by posting, you are making your address public.
- Groups that are illegal or want to spread hateful messages may try to get you involved.
Resources for reporting incidents
Here is a general guideline for reporting Internet wrongdoing.
- Call the local police and ask if they have a department affiliated with the “Internet Crimes Against Children” (ICAC). If they do, go through that department.
- At the same time, file a report with the Cybertips hotline: 1-800-843-5678. Reports can be made directly online by clicking on the Cybertipline at http://www.missingkids.com/
- Contact the Pennsylvania State Attorney General at http://www.attorneygeneral.gov or by phone at 717-787-3391.