As the Internet becomes more and more accessible in our homes and on the go on our phones and tablets, it becomes increasingly important that we remain vigilant for the safety of ourselves and our children. Here are ten tips for Internet users to practice and for parents to teach their children.
Keep personal information private. Don’t share your birth date, home address, social security number, bank account numbers, or telephone number. Also be careful about divulging information such as clubs or teams you belong to, where you practice, or other schedule information.
Use the highest possible privacy settings on any devices, sites, and social media that you use.
When creating your screen or user name, choose something generic that does not give away personal information (such as your birth date).
Don’t share your passwords with anyone. If you use a password notebook, keep it safe. Make sure to log out when you are finished on a site, especially if you are on a public computer.
Minors should never meet an online friend without a parent’s permission and participation. Adults should be very careful about meeting online friends. If you choose to meet, make sure that you choose a well-lit, public location. Don’t agree to leave in a vehicle with anyone you have just met. And trust your instincts if anything makes you uncomfortable.
Be cautious when purchasing online. Make sure the company has a good reputation, and purchase only from secure sites.
Don’t fall for phishing scams. Phishing scams are e-mail messages appearing to come from legitimate places of business that you frequent. These messages usually direct you to a spoofed website or otherwise get you to divulge private information. Banks and other authentic businesses will not use e-mail to request that you change your password or to ask for other private information.
Make sure to download from trusted sites only. Never open an attachment from someone you don’t know.
Be very choosy about the photos you post online. Be sure to turn the GPS off on your phone before you take photos. Don’t post photos that give away personal information, such as a driver’s license number or address. Also consider the content in the photo before posting. Once it is online, it is forever.
Just like photos, once the words you say are online, they are permanent. Don’t say anything that you wouldn’t want your parents, pastor, coach, or employer to read, or that you won’t be proud of ten years from now.