Internet Safety

Netiquette

Safe Texting:

  1. Never Text & Drive. While this may seem obvious, many people ignore their common sense and do it anyway, especially teenagers. Many states have banned talking on mobile phones without a hands free device while driving.
  2. Sexting. Another ‘seemingly obvious’ rule. Talk to your kids about the practice, and about peer pressure. A survey by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that more than 50 percent of the girls who "sexted" did so under pressure from boyfriends.
  3. Text and walk. This one’s for parents & kids: Always keep your eyes ahead of you, not on your phone. This is especially true when walking on a busy sidewalk or crossing an intersection. When using your cell phone, it’s very easy to get distracted and lose focus on what is taking place around you.
  4. Think before you text. It only takes seconds of poor judgment for a private thought to hit the airwaves. Once you send a text message, even to a friend, you can’t take it back and you never know who might see it. Prevent embarrassing moments by thinking twice before you text - just as you would before you speak.

For more information, please visit: Wise Kids

Safe Instant Messaging:

    When you open your IM program, you can see who on your Buddy or Friends list is currently online. To IM a friend, you simply click his or her screen name from your list, type up a quick message (never mind proper grammar when it comes to IMing), and hit Send.

    Convenient as it may be, however, IMing also comes with security risks. Whether you're contemplating joining the instant messaging crowd, or are already an avid IMer, here are a few hazards you — and your kids — need to beware of:

  1. Spam/spim Junk IMs, also known as spim are on the rise. These ads often contain inappropriate images (such as pornographic photos) that can suddenly pop up on your computer screen. Sometimes the messages appear to be from your bank or a contest, for example, but are actually from criminals, who are trying to con you into divulging personal and financial information.
  2. Worms, viruses, Trojan horses Just like with email, malicious programs can infect your IM program, too. If this happens, unbeknownst to you, infected IMs will be sent to those on your Buddy or Friends list. These viruses can make your IM program sluggish, crash your computer, or even take over your computer to surreptitiously use it for hacking or other illegal activities.
  3. Predators Kids are IM's No. 1 fans: 75% of American teens use IM, according to a 2005 report by the Pew Internet & American Life Project. But IM's very personal, one-to-one nature — and the fact that you can close an IM chat window and it's as if the conversation never existed — has attracted child predators. Experts say these predator use IM to find new victims and try to lure them for offline meetings or to indecently expose themselves via web cams.

Safety and Privacy Tips:

    There's no cure-all for all IM hazards, but vigilance, common sense and a few basic safety tips can keep your family safe and connected, says Anne Collier, editor, executive director and founder of NetFamilyNews.com. To keep your family safe, here are her recommendations:

  1. Block unwanted or unknown senders - Adjust your IM settings so that only those on your Buddy or Friends list can IM you. For example, in Yahoo! Messenger, in the main menu, click on Friends. Choose Edit Ignore List and then select the option: Ignore anyone not on my friends list.
  2. Don't give out personal information - In general, make sure not to post your IM screen name online. It's also a good idea for your family to choose names that don't include personal details like "ZipCode94111" or "ChicagoGirl" or "WestmontHighCheerleader."
  3. Never reply to strangers - If you haven't changed your settings to only get IMs from people on your Buddy or Friends list — or you are using a public computer at a library or school — strangers can IM you. Whether an IM is a pornographic advertisement or an IM from someone who seems friendly or like an old friend, the rule is the same.
  4. Don't click unsolicited links or attachments - Even if a web link appears to be from a friend, it could have been sent by a worm or other malicious program trying to infect your computer. So unless you just asked your friend to IM you a link to her favorite recipe site.
  5. Don't meet online pals offline - Sometimes your kids will meet a friend elsewhere on the Internet, such as within an online community site. Then they might give out their IM screen name to have a private conversation. This is bad news and is often how predators find kids.

For more information, please visit: The Boston Public Library

Chat Room Safety:

  1. Remember that what you say in a chat room or instant messaging session is live — you can’t take it back or delete it later.
  2. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want the public to know — this includes your full name, your address, phone number of other personal information.
  3. Don’t get together with someone you meet in a chat room. If you must, meet in a public place and bring along some friends.
  4. Don’t reveal your actual location or when and where you plan to hang out.
  5. Choose a nick name that’s not sexually suggestive and doesn’t give away your real name.
  6. If someone says or does something creepy — block them and don’t respond.
  7. If the topic turns to sex, just sign out. That can often lead somewhere you don’t want to go.