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How to Be Safe Online
|Grades||6 – 12|
|Tip Topic||Tips for Teaching With Technology
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Why Use This Tip
Whether teens want to connect with someone across the street or across the state, the Internet makes it easy. With online sites like Facebook and Twitter, teens can talk to friends and family anywhere in the world. The challenge is to make sure that they carry on these conversations safely.
Every time a teen goes online, he or she must make decisions about what to share with others. To create a site login, for instance, teens may be asked to provide their real names, home addresses, and age. While chatting online, they may talk about their relationships with others, their jobs, and the school they attend. In the hands of the wrong person, this information can place a teen in danger. By teaching teens some basic guidelines about online safety, you can help make sure the time they spend online is safe.
- Discuss the kind of information people post online. Ask teens to talk about information people post on profiles, status updates, and blogs. Have teens talk about what people who read this information online might say or do. Teens can think about how friends and family, teachers, employers and co-workers might react. Also ask teens to discuss how people they do not know might respond (like the admissions staff at a college or a future employer). Some information to talk about includes:
- Name, address, phone numbers, and other contact informatio
- Things that happen at school and during after-school activitie
- Where the teen works and the things that happen there
- Things the teen does with friends and family
- Ask teens to talk about whether it's safe to post personal information online. Talk about how online predators can use personal information to locate someone at home, school, and work.
- Talk to the teen about how to choose a safe nickname. Some tips to share include:
- Do not use your real name or location. Your real name or location can give an online predator enough information to find your street address
- Do not include your age or date of birth. Some online predators target young people, so it's best not to tell people your age
- Avoid nicknames related to where you go to school or where you work. This information tells an online predator another place to find you.
- Use the Online Profile Tips to talk about information teens can usually share safely. Talk about how the tips also apply to blogs, email, and instant messages (IMs).
- Practice creating a safe profile with the Profile Publisher. Ask the teen to use the Online Profile Tips as you work together.
- For more help, use material from NetSmartz. The site includes comics, worksheets, and videos that talk about how to be safe online. You can also find useful resources on these sites:
- If you like, read a book together that explores online situations. Choose a book from the Text Messages podcast Teen Literature and Technology. Talk about whether the characters make smart choices about what they share online.