Can’t Go Offline? Three Smart Tips for Online Safety
Can you imagine life without the Internet? While it offers advantages when it comes to learning and communication, it also gives a way to possible danger. It’s likely for you to come across people with bad intentions in forums, online communities, and social networking sites. These people prey on the youth’s desire for a sense of belonging, acceptance, romance, or sexual curiosity. These malicious people would pretend to offer a sympathetic ear, but in actuality, they are practicing emotional manipulation. An online relationship may ensue that could possibly lead to a physical meeting in the future. In the online kingdom, everyone can be anonymous if they choose to be, so predators can be anyone. A CBC.ca report last April states a 16-year-old boy lured young girls into having online romantic relationships with him.
As such, whenever you go online and talk to people other than your relatives, friends, or classmates, consider these wise tips to ensure your safety:
1) Watch out for signs of predatory behavior.
It is okay to engage in conversations and chat about common interests like favorite or most hated subjects, music, movies, and TV. It is not okay when you are asked things like “What are your best features?” or “What do people like about your physical appearance?” While these questions sound casual, they can lead to completely inappropriate questions or requests. As such, once you find yourself even a bit uncomfortable, stop the conversation, and log off.
2) Set your privacy settings correctly.
For sure, your parents or friends have warned you about posting your home address and phone number in your social networking accounts, and they are right. Another thing to remember though is that when you post a status or a photo, make sure that only your friends or followers can see it. And while it is tempting to use the “check-in” feature and tag the pals you are with when you are in an exclusive event and such, it is best to avoid this. Remember, whenever you tag anyone, those who are connected to them will see your post. For instance, if your buddy’s classmate from years ago has been obsessed with you for years and sees that check-in post, you may get a stalker in return.
3) Don’t take pictures you don’t want your parents/grandparents to see.
Taking selfies are fun, but when they end up in the wrong hands, you would probably think twice about taking them in the first place. You may have the trickiest PIN code or password there is but keep in mind these cybercriminals probably have the sophisticated technology to hack into your gadgets and take whatever they find there. Let last year’s celebrity hacking scandal serve as a lesson. The bottom line is, technology is continuously evolving and so are cyberhackers, so always think twice before clicking to take that selfie.
So how do you ensure your safety online? Well, you don’t have to go back to the dark ages and throw out your iPhone or laptop. All you have to do is be aware of your surroundings, what you say, and what you post. You don’t have to share everything with everyone all the time. Be mysterious and take pride in your privacy!