How much time do spend online and on your mobile phone? Hours? You’re not alone. 95 percent of teens (ages 12-17) are online. Nine out of 10 American adults own a cell phone, and nearly two-thirds own a smartphone. Even 58% of 12-year-olds carry mobile miniature computers (smartphones). Technology is great for looking up info quickly and immediately, getting directions, connecting with friends, keeping track of your money and more. However, with every social media account you set up, every app you download, every picture you post, every status you update, every text and email conversation, every online gambling bet placed or virtual world you access, you may be divulging personal information to internet companies and the world. This information might put you at risk. That’s why it’s important for parents to understand internet safety.
As internet/computer capabilities grow, your digital footprint expands. Individuals, especially teens, should be securing safe boundaries before they send, click or log on. There are dangers associated with the increasing capabilities of smartphones and all the public information available, like cyberbullying or inappropriate content going viral, to be seen by your peers, boss, teachers and/or future employers. There’s also the risk of revealing too much information that could be used for exploitation or by online predators, let alone spyware data collection, identity theft, and online dating tragedies.
There are more than 9,000 internet slang words, acronyms and abbreviations listed on one online slang dictionary. Be familiar with what they mean before you use them. It may save you some heartaches. Acronyms and slang used incorrectly may not represent the real you. The last thing you want is to digitally say something you don’t understand and have spread all over online!
A US study shows that 41% of teens and young adults have electronically sent sexually explicit images. Once these pictures are out of your hands, they can be spread everywhere, around your school, in your city, even across the globe in a very short time. And, once the images are out there, erasing them is nearly impossible.
Knowing the risks and establishing a code of online conduct may save you from harmful consequences. Consider the following good safety rules for teens (and everyone) from Net Smartz:
I Will Think Before I Post
I agree not to post information and images that could put me at risk, embarrass me or damage my future, such as cell and home phone numbers, home address, sexual messages and inappropriate pictures or videos.
I Will Respect Other People Online
I will not post anything rude, offensive or threatening. I will not send or forward images and information that might embarrass, hurt or harass someone. I will not take anyone’s personal information and use it to damage his or her reputation.
I Will Be Careful When Meeting Online Friends in Person
I agree to ask my parent or guardian’s permission before going, have a parent or guardian accompany me or meet in a public place.
I Will Protect Myself Online
If someone makes me feel uncomfortable or if someone is rude or offensive, I will not respond. I will save the evidence, tell my parent, guardian or another trusted adult and, when appropriate, report it to the website, cell phone company, CyberTipline.com or the police.
Keeping your personal information safe and your etiquette appropriate may keep your body, family, finances, future job aspirations and friendships whole, healthy and safe. Check out the these resources on cybersecurity and smartphone safety helpful security information.
Are your children getting old enough to the point where they’re starting to use Internet connected devices and you need help knowing how to approach the topic? Care Net offers parenting support programs and is happy to help you guide this relatively new, uncharted parental territory.