Tips for Teenagers
Teenagers often times get into situations online where they don't feel comfortable telling someone about it. This creates dangerous situations for teens, because they're often vulnerable and just want to make new friends so they are deemed popular at school and online.
1. Never post personal information online. This includes cell phone numbers, your address/current location, and other information that predators can use to find you. Posting your cell phone number online for your friends to see may seem harmless at first, but it's not. You never really know who's looking at your profile and they now will have your number.
2. Never send photos of yourself to people you just met online. You don't know if they are who they really say they are. We encourage you to keep your selfies to yourself when you first meet someone.
3. Do not meet in person with someone you “met” on the internet. Often times, predators will try to gain your trust so they convince you to meet them. Do not meet them. Again, you do not know if they are who they really say they are. If you do want to meet an online friend, ALWAYS meet them in a public place such as a mall. That way, if something goes wrong, there are other people around. Take a friend with you too, because you should never go alone. ALWAYS tell your parents where you are. It may seem stupid, but it's for your own safety.
5. Don’t share your password with your friends or anyone for that matter. It might seem cool to have your friend "hack" you on Snapchat, but what happens if you guys have a fight? Will they log onto your accounts and post your private information? You don't really ever know the answer to that question, so it's best to keep your passwords to yourself. There really is never a need to give your passwords out to the people you're dating. They should trust you without having to access your social media accounts.
6. Never click on links from unfamiliar people. Sometimes, your friends may be hacked and you may receive links to things due to being hacked. To always be safe, just ask your friend if they meant to send you the link. Sometimes, the link will install viruses. Try not to download things from websites you are not familiar with.
7. Use privacy settings. They are there for a reason. Using privacy settings can help to assure you that people can't see what you don't want them to online. They also make it harder for anyone to gain control of your mobile devices or social media accounts.
8. Always keep a password on your phone. You never know if you might lose it. You have a lot of personal info stored on your phone, so always have a log-in password, a hard one that only you would know.
9. Do not EVER post inappropriate pictures, statuses, or anything for that matter onto social media. You will soon regret it. Everything you post online is there forever, even if you delete it.
10. When you're angry at someone, careful not to start posting about it on social media. That might come back to haunt you in the future when you are applying for jobs or colleges.
11. Talking about sex or sharing explicit images online may sound like fun at the time, but it can lead to anything from embarrassment among friends to a predator’s “grooming” (online stalking). With photos, it’s actually illegal. If you are receiving sexual messages or images, contact your local police or an online tipline immediately. Anything you send can be placed in the public view. Remember that.
12. We recommend using different passwords for the different accounts you may have. We know it can be annoying to have to remember all the different passwords, but it's a good idea for safety reasons, especially if other people have access to one of your accounts.
13. Be selective with friend requests. If you don’t know the person, don’t accept their request. It could be a fake account, a predator, or someone trying to 'catfish' you. Plus, why would you accept a friend request from someone you have never talked to before?
14. If you use online banking, always make sure you log out of your account as soon as you are done. Hackers could get into your bank account and that wouldn't be good. Always stay logged out and delete the page after you visit the website. Although it seems like common sense, NEVER give out your bank account info.
15. Become familiar with the privacy policies of the social media channels you use and customize your privacy settings to control who sees what. Did you know that you can control who sees your statuses on Facebook? Visit your favorite social media sites and look into making sure that you're safe on each account.
16. This may seem like common sense, but never share your social security number (including just the last 4 digits), your birth date (to strangers), your home address or even your cell phone number. You should protect all of your private information so that strangers can't access it.
17. Avoid using location services on social media, especially Snapchat. If you're under 16, disable location services on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter when posting photos as well. It may be cool, but it’s not necessary and the risk is greater than the reward. We highly suggest turning Snapchat's new location feature off. So many teens keep it on which allows everyone on their Snapchat to know EXACTLY where they are, even down to the house. That's just plain scary and I bet you don't know everyone on your Snapchat well enough to give them your address. Learn More!
18. If someone asks you for inappropriate pictures of yourself, quickly decline and block that person. Also, report them on social media for sexual harassment so their account has a better chance at being taken down. Never agree to sending sexually explicit pictures or messages, even if you like the other person.
19. Think before you post. Don't post something you may regret later, because once it's online, it stays online. Teenagers, a lot of the time, don't think before posting statuses and pictures. This causes issues at home, at school, and online. We like to say this: before you post something, think to yourself. "Would my parents or grandparents be okay with seeing this?"
20. Practice safe shopping while you're shopping online. Be careful before purchasing things online. Always check to see if the website is legit, such as by reading about the business, their privacy rights, copyright rights, and their reviews. Remember, you are giving them your credit/debit card information, so make sure they are a real business.
21. Never log in from public hotspots. They may not seem so bad, but they are sometimes easy to hack into and your private information could be at risk while connected to them.
Always be cautious online. It's better to play it safe then be sorry.
Would you ever agree to meet up with an online friend? This is our number one mistake that teens make while online. They agree to meet their online friend alone at their house. This turns the situation into a scary one, because now you are very vulnerable and the other person has you alone, so they may feel control over you.
Teens often send their online boyfriend/girlfriend the house address of where they live at, so that they can receive mail or gifts. Predators often do the same thing. This creates a highly dangerous situation, because now they could find your house and get a hold of you in person.
Teens use social media to find new friends sometimes, but what if the other person isn't who they say they are? Teenagers often don't realize that until it's too late. If you have never seen them before in person, they very well could be fake or an online predator.
Teenagers often struggling with knowing whether or not sexting is okay to do. Visit our page on sexting and dating safety to learn more about how to keep yourself safe online. Learn More!
Cyberbullying affects thousands of teenagers nationally each day. It is never okay to harass, stalk, or bully someone else online or on social media sites. Learn More!
Sometimes teens get themselves into scary situations online and sometimes teens don't know how to deal with what's happened. Teen suicide should never be an option. Learn More!
If you're a teenager and you see something online that shouldn't be there, let us know! This can include inappropriate pictures, statuses, abusive posts, statuses about harassing and stalking, or anything else that you deem not appropriate to be online. We use this to help make social media rules stronger for a various number of social media apps and sites.