What does it mean?

Most people, including youth, have a fun, safe trip on the information superhighway. Although most online experiences are positive, cyberspace does have a dark side: It includes people who attempt to exploit children and others through the Internet as well as materials on the Internet that are adult-oriented and inappropriate for children. Because you tend to live out a good portion of your life on the World Wide Web, it’s easy to forget that having a life online also means that countless numbers of people have access to your personal information at any given time.

Providing Personal Information

When providing personal information, never give out personal information to people they only know online, this includes name, home address, landline and mobile numbers, bank details, PIN numbers and passwords. Don’t supply details for registration without asking for permission and help from you. Also don’t give any indication of your age or sex in a personal email address or screen name.

Online Scams

Thousands of con artists, grafters, fraudsters, and other denizens of the dark are trolling for victims online. For example, You get an e-mail telling you that you've won something cool--usually the hot gadget du jour, such as an Xbox or an IPod. All you need to do is visit a Web site and provide your debit card number and PIN to cover "shipping and handling" costs. The item never arrives. A few months later, mystery charges start showing up on your bank account

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your personally identifying information, like your name, Social Security number, or credit card number, without your permission, to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity Theft Protection helps guard customers’ identities when online; McAfee Password Vault provides a safe place to store confidential passwords.

Communication with adults about inappropriate behavior

Although some highly publicized cases of abuse involving computers have occurred, reported cases of harassment and abuse because of a child's online activities are infrequent. Of course, like most crimes against children, many cases go unreported, especially if the child is engaged in an activity that he or she does not want to discuss with a parent. Child Safety on the Information Highway by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children notes that the fact that crimes are being committed online is not a reason to avoid using these services. To tell children to stop using these services would be like telling them to forgo attending college because students are sometimes victimized on campus. A better strategy would be for children to learn how to be "street smart" in order to better safeguard themselves in any potentially dangerous situation.

What parental resources are available?

Parental resources, such as the 20-page illustrated Think First & Stay Safe™ Parent Guide is designed for preventing crimes against children. The Parent Guide gives parents and guardians current, relevant personal safety information - including proven prevention strategies - to sit down and share with youngsters. The Parent Guide provides the words and illustrations to ease personal safety discussions.