~Help With Online Dangers~
What is Dangerous when you are online? Why are these things dangerous? Here's some help so you can be aware of certain dangers online to protect you from viruses, scams, and worse.
Dangerous: chatrooms where you are talking to complete strangers
- Why? The reason why chatrooms are dangerous is because you never know just who you are conversing with. People can be overly bold on the computer and think they can get away with bad things, such as showing you terrible images or talking about lewd, provocative, or crass things. Predators feel more confidant to seek out innocent kids online because they are masked.
Solution: Instead of talking to anonymous people in private chatrooms where the conversation can suddenly turn rotten, only chat with friends you know and trust in real life using your email or Instant Messenger to talk to them. If they start sending suspicious links, you can at least call your friend on the telephone and ask them if it's them. If they say no, then your friend should know that someone has hacked into their email or IM account and they should contact their service provider as soon as possible to get the situation fixed. If you can't live without chatting in chat rooms, then be cautious to know when to "X" before you pull up a link to something that can wipe your computer out. Don't accept the invitation to let someone you don't know chat with you privately. Private chats are altogether a bad idea, especially if you don't know who you are talking to.
Dangerous: going to unprotected site where viruses lurk
- Why? The reason is quite simple: viruses can harm and even destroy your computer. You must avoid them at all costs. If you go to a site and your virus protection detects something is askew, do not dismiss it. It could be a serious issue, so always make sure you resolve it as soon as possible. For the future, don't go back to the supposed site that gave your computer (or almost gave your computer) a virus.
Solution: Know the sites you are visiting before you go there. If a site asks for a log in ID and a password, make sure there is little picture of a lock in the url bar. It is usually highlighted green when you sign in. This means that the site is secured. Any information transferred, including financial information, to and from this site is protected. Know where you are going, what you are doing, and what you can expect.
Dangerous: going to sites where predators may hide
- Why? You may think that predators are not out there on the web, but they are. They can not only steal your identity, your financial information, and your pride, but they can also steal your innocence. Predators are everywhere, but they have a great advantage online: they can hide in the shadows. Sometimes you don't who is a friend or a foe until it's too late.
Solution: Be very careful on sites where anyone can just set up an account and start sending you stuff. Yes, this includes the famed Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, Facebook, etc. They can be really fun and tools for good, but they can also be a haven for the bad people. Lock the door to them by avoiding making friends with people you don't know. If it does happen that you already have a few friends online that you've never met in real life, ones that seem safe and harmless, still always have your parents know about them and what they talk about online. An adult may realize a threat before you do, and, if the person says or sends you something suspicious, tell an adult right away. It is much safer to have an account that is private, with only friends you know personally that you have invited.
Dangerous: giving out personal information
- Why? This is a terrible idea because in the world of electronics and the Internet, hackers can steal any information you divulge and use it against you. They can gather information until they have enough to figure out passwords, bank account information, or just make your life a mess. Not only that, when you tell personal things to people online where it is public, friends may share this with others and it can embellish. Personal information then can get out of hand quickly, turn into gossip, or simply be untrue. Remember, the Internet is public. ANYONE can see what you write, so be careful. Also, remember that when you are talking about personal issues, like your feelings and your family, your family may not want you discussing with other people and for good reason.
Solution: Don't tell people personal information over the computer. It is much better and healthier to discuss personal issues with a close confidant you can trust over the phone, in person, or in a letter. And, make sure they can't take what you say and misconstrue it. When you just want to vent on your blog about personal stuff, intending to delete it later, it may still be cached somewhere and be found. Nothing is ever truly deleted on the internet. The person you were venting about may even find it and it could ruin your relationship. It is better to vent to yourself in a journal, write a letter and rip it up later, or just type it out on the computer and delete it afterwards. It's a great idea to have a journal to talk about your personal feelings; it's not seen by prying eyes that will misunderstand the information and it can give you a good outline for later if you do need to discuss it with a friend.
Dangerous: revealing your age/sex/location to people you don't know
- Why? Once someone locks in on your exact age/sex/specific location, they can begin digging up other pieces of information about you. They can try (and may succeed) to unlock passwords, open accounts, and find out more about you , like your full name or where you live.
Solution: Don't give this information out. Don't write it in your blog, don't write it on your site, and don't make a big deal about it. If at all possible, avoid leaving hints and traces about your age, your sex, and your location on your website or blog. It's for the best that some things remain just a little anonymous, especially when you are an adolescent.
Dangerous: arranging to meet people you've never met before or telling people where you are
- Why? Because even if you think you know them well from what you've talked about with them on the computer, you might find they are very different in real life. They can have a criminal record or they may be a sexual predator. There have been some scams where people wait until you're away to break into your home; many of them find this information out by casing out the information the person says online.
Solution: Don't get yourself in a situation where someone might ask that in the first place. Decline invitations to meet and never tell them where you are located and avoid making it obvious when no one is in your home or when you are alone.
Dangerous: browsing without your parents' consent
- Why? Parents look out for their children's best interest. If you browse without their consent, they may feel hurt you went behind their back. When your parents know, too, it can help you if you do run into a problem.
Solution: While they are older and much more experienced in life than children are, they may also not be so technologically advanced and may not understand what you do online. It may be your job to teach them. Once your parents understand what the computer is all about and are fully educated, they can enforce the proper rules to protect you. Have your parents know what you do online. Just like you come home from school and show off your homework and school projects, you should show off the things you do on the computer. Maybe you have a website that you worked really hard on. If your parents know and are okay with it, then you might actually find that they will support you in all the hard work you do. They may not approve of everything, just like if you came home with a bad grade in school, they'd be disappointed. If you do or go somewhere they don't approve of, they will likely be concerned. It may seem appropriate to lash back or defend yourself if your parents correct you, but it really is the wisest course to listen to the rules, apologize when you mess up, and try to obey in the future. Go over the rules of the computer with them before you even log in and obey the rules. Know where they don't want you to go and what they don't want you to say. This will keep you safe, preserve unity in the family, and help you and your parents to have a more open relationship.
Dangerous: browsing without virus protection
- Why? Viruses are armed and ready to attack your computer. They can steal information, delete important files, corrupt hardware, add programs that deteriorate your computer, and sometimes destroy everything on your computer. Without virus protection programs, you can easily get viruses, tracking cookies, trojan horses, and other malware that will pack a nasty punch to your PC or Mac.
Solution: Very simply, get virus protection software on your computer. Shop around for the best virus protection. Make sure it's turned on and working, up-to-date, and performs regular scans before you even connect to the internet. Viruses aren't designed to be nice, and that's why you need to fight against them with virus protection.
Dangerous: starting or fueling fights online
- Why? When things get hostile, tension mounts and people say and do stupid things that is later regretted. Starting fights in chat-boxes, comment sections, or forums gives people an altered perception of you and may label you as mean and controversial. You won't make friends this way in real life or on your personal website. If you are on someone else's site and you start a fight, you could get banned. It's not fair to everyone else, gives a poor image of you, and may incite people to gang up against you.
Solution: Don't start fights by leaving before you are provoked. If someone picks a fight with you, explain you didn't come online to fight. If you realize you inadvertently started a fight, quickly and sincerely apologize. Sometimes you may have to send the person a private message just that once so that things don't get out of hand publicly. Speak with reasoning words and don't accuse or make excuses. If you are sorry you started a fight or didn't mean to, be honest and tactful and hopefully they will listen and be reasonable. If they really want to keep fighting, just walk away. You tried, and they are not worth conversing with. There are better things to do than fight.
Dangerous: stealing from other people and sites
- Why? This is unethical and down-right wrong. People spend a lot of time pouring themselves into their sites or something they worked on. It is completely unfair, deceitful, and lazy to take it without asking and pretend you made it yourself. Once the person you stole from finds out, they'll be upset and they may even have the right to sue you for plagiarism, if their work is legally copyrighted. Other people who visit the site may get hostile towards you because they think of you as a no-good thief. This will give you a terrible reputation. Besides all that, you will never learn to do things on your own or be creative if you always steal other people's works. A lack of creativity caused by laziness is a very dangerous thing.
Solution: Instead of stealing, ask the person who made it if you can use it and give credit. If they say no, accept it. Don't ignore what they said and steal anyway. With all the free help guides online and people that kindly offer assistance, no one needs to steal. If you needed something for your site, but aren't sure how to make it yourself, ask the web owner about it or ask the question to a search engine. Sometimes a web owner will be glad to help you, but they won't be happy if you take without asking or steal something, alter it, and say you created it. It is much better to ask around for help or use things from sites' "Free" pages to help you get started. But, always give credit when it is asked and never claim it is yours if it originally wasn't. Give credit in your disclaimer or on a thank you page. People who steal for the thrill of it, however, need to stop and get help. Stealing is not right, as any functioning conscious will tell you.
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