In this technologically advanced world, the internet is constantly growing offering teenagers more resources on a daily basis. Yet, while the internet can be a highly beneficial place whereby teenagers can learn a great deal, it can also be a very dangerous place that can lead to detrimental effects both on the teenager and their computers. Below are some tips to ensure these damaging behaviours do not affect you.

Tip no. 1: Never give out your personal information
Many teenagers and children have a trusting nature and are willing to share personal information with unknown individuals on the internet. They often believe these virtual ‘friends’ are trustworthy as they are supposedly providing them with personal information, thus they feel comfortable doing the same. However, it has been seen that some of these youngsters are older sexual predators posing as children looking for victims. Habbo Hotel, a virtual social community where teenagers and children would often go to chat, has been constantly criticised for being a sexual predator feeding group despite its supposed safeguards.

Another reason to not give out personal information is that your information may be sold to others. All websites should adhere to a privacy policy if they require personal information in some form. However, there are those sites that choose to ignore the policy and will sell your data to larger corporations that will spam your email address in an attempt to sell you an item. Of course, it is sometimes necessary to provide information in order to obtain something such as a discount coupon or event tickets, but if the site is asking for too much detail it is best to leave.

Tip no. 2: Don’t open ‘dodgy’ emails
We all receive those strange emails from people we don’t know; it’s become a rather disappointing fact of life. While the child in us is often curious to see what the ‘dodgy’ email contains, this is not a smart behaviour as the email is more than likely from an identity thief or hacker. By opening the email you may set a chain of events into effect which could wipe your hard drive and steal all information thereon. If you click the link in the email you may do the same thing and find yourself a victim of identity theft. It is best to ignore all emails from individuals you do not know.

Tip no. 3: Keep your username and password safe
It may seem obvious, but do not give out your username and password to anyone. Many times people have provided friends with their passwords and usernames only to find they are victims of ‘frape’. For those of you who are ignorant of this term, this is Facebook rape and is a case whereby an individual’s account is accessed by another person. This person will then post ridiculous and lewd statements contrary to the account holder’s personality. It can be the case that a comment can be so inappropriate that it may lead to dire consequences such as being expelled from school.

Tip no. 4: What goes on the internet stays on the internet
Nowadays, teenagers are posting pictures of themselves in very suggestive sexual poses. Furthermore, certain teenagers are posting pictures of themselves displaying suicidal intentions. There have also been cases where the individual has photoshopped pictures to include the presence of such substances as cannabis, opiods and alcohol.

It is generally the case that the teenager was willing to post the picture at that moment, however they regret it a while later. Unfortunately, what has been placed on the internet will stay on the internet and can be traced back to the relevant teenager. It is important children and teenagers are aware of this fact in order to avoid any consequences to embarrassing and risqué pictures such as cyber-bullying, legal actions or risk of not being accepted to colleges. You should also discourage any friends from posting inappropriate pictures of you should they be seen by important figures.

Tip no. 4: Stay away from the pop-up sites
In today’s society, the internet is bombarded with advertisements for pornographic, gambling and adult/mature sites. It is best to avoid these sites and leave them should you happen to click on them. Understandably, teenagers may seek out pornographic and adult sites as a means of finding information on sex or obtaining a sexual release. However, you must remember that pornography is fantasy and not real-life so remember there are much better ways to learn about realistic sex if you are curious.

Tip no. 5: Be cautious of meeting someone in person
As has been mentioned, the internet is a world of anonymity which can lead to adult sexual predators searching for new victims. It is often the case that they will attempt to gain one’s trust by establishing an online friendship with the teenager and then suggest a meeting. One must always be cautious regarding meetings as they can lead to dangerous outcomes.

If you do decide to meet an online friend in the flesh it is advised you meet in a public place with an older friend or your parents. You should also request that individual bring their parents along as well to ensure they are a teenager and increase the level of security. If the meeting begins to feel awkward and you feel you should leave, it is in your best interests to end it and continue the relationship online should you wish to.

Tip no. 6: Inform your parents of your online activities
While it may seem childish and you make feel like a ‘loser’, it is important to inform your parents of the different types of sites you are visiting. As can be seen, the internet poses a great deal of danger and parents will be able to help if you should encounter any difficulties of any sort.

Last words on using the internet safely
The internet can be greatly enjoyable and allows teenagers many opportunities. However, it is important to understand the dangers and take action against them in order to remain safe whilst using it. Some of the best broadband deals also include great security packages so it is well worth shopping around.

Sam Jones thought that the best broadband deals would be easy to find.  He was right – after just a few minutes on sites like uSwitch he had a great money saving offer.


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