Skip to main content
Print
Vincent Massey Secondary School
MENU
Internet Safety

Internet Safety

Be Web 2.0-savvy and don't "over-share"

Smart Surfing *(taken from www.kidshealth.org)
First rule of smart surfing? Remain as anonymous as possible. That means keeping all private information private. Here are some examples of private information that you should never give out on the Internet:

  • full name
  • home address
  • phone number
  • Social Insurance number
  • passwords
  • names of family members
  • credit card numbers

Most credible people and companies will never ask for this type of information online. So if someone does, it's a red flag that they may be up to no good.

Think carefully before you create an email address or screen name. Web experts recommend that you use a combination of letters and numbers in both — and that you don't identify whether you're male or female.

In chat rooms, use a nickname that's different from your screen name. That way, if you ever find yourself in a conversation that makes you uncomfortable, you can exit without having to worry that someone knows your screen name and can track you down via email. Some people who hang out with their friends online set up private chat rooms where only they and the people they invite can enter to chat.

Experts recommend that people keep online friendships in the virtual world. Meeting online friends face to face carries more risks than other types of friendships because it's so easy for people to pretend to be something they're not when you can't see them or talk in person.

If you ever get involved in a chat room conversation that makes you feel uncomfortable or in danger for any reason, exit and tell a parent, teacher or other adult right away so they can report the incident.  They will then see that the info is forwarded to law enforcement officials for investigation.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR ONLINE IDENTITY AND REPUTATION:
 Things to Consider
 Here are some things to consider to safeguard your online identity and reputation:

Remember that nothing is temporary online. The virtual world is full of opportunities to interact and share with people around the world. It's also a place where nothing is temporary and there are no "take-backs." A lot of what you do and say online can be retrieved online even if you delete it — and it's a breeze for others to copy, save, and forward your information.

Mark your profiles as private. Anyone who accesses your profile on a social networking site can copy or screen-capture information and photos that you may not want the world to see. Don't rely on the site's default settings. Read each site's instructions or guidelines to make sure you're doing everything you can to keep your material private.

Safeguard your passwords and change them frequently. If someone logs on to a site and pretends to be you, they can trash your identity. Pick passwords that no one will guess (don't use your favorite band or your dog's birthday; try thinking of two utterly random nouns and mixing in a random number), and change them often. Never share them with anyone other than your parents or a trusted adult. Not even your best friend, boyfriend, or girlfriend should know your private passwords!

Don't post inappropriate or sexually provocative pictures or comments. Things that seem funny or cool to you right now might not seem so cool years from now — or when a teacher, admissions officer, or potential employer sees them. A good rule of thumb is: if you'd feel weird if your grandmother, coach, or best friend's parents saw it, it's probably not a good thing to post. Even if it's on a private page, it could be hacked or copied and forwarded.

Don't respond to inappropriate requests. Research shows that a high percentage of teens receive inappropriate messages and solicitations when they're online. These can be scary, strange, and even embarrassing. If you feel harassed by a stranger or a friend online, tell an adult you trust immediately. It is never a good idea to respond. Responding is only likely to make things worse, and might result in you saying something you wish you hadn't.

You can report inappropriate behavior or concerns at www.cybertipline.org.

Take a breather to avoid "flaming." File this one under "nothing's temporary online": If you get the urge to fire off an angry IM or comment on a message board or blog, it's a good idea to wait a few minutes, calm down, and remember that the comments may stay up (with your screen name right there) long after you've regained your temper and maybe changed your mind.

You might feel anonymous or disguised in chat rooms, social networks, or other sites — and this could lead to mean, insulting, or abusive comments toward someone else, or sharing pictures and comments you may later regret. We've all heard of cyberbullying, but most people think online bullying is something people do intentionally. But sharing stuff or dropping random comments when we're not face to face with someone can hurt just as much, if not more. And it can damage how others see you if they find out. A good rule to remember: if you wouldn't say it, show it, or do it in person, you probably don't want to online.

Learn about copyrights. It's a good idea to learn about copyright laws and make sure you don't post, share, or distribute copyrighted images, songs, or files. Sure, you want to share them, but you don't want to accidentally do anything illegal that can come back to haunt you later.

Check yourself. Chances are, you've already checked your "digital footprint" — nearly half of all online users do. Try typing your screen name or email address into a search engine and see what comes up. That's one way to get a sense of what others see as your online identity.


Take it offline. In general, if you have questions about the trail you're leaving online, don't be afraid to ask a trusted adult. Sure, you might know more about the online world than a lot of adults do, but they have life experience that can help.

Your online identity and reputation are shaped in much the same way as your real-life identity, except that when you're online you don't always get a chance to explain your tone or what you mean. Thinking before you post and following the same rules for responsible behavior online as you do offline can help you avoid leaving an online identity trail you regret.

CYBERBULLYING
 Cyberbullying It's not just strangers who can make you feel uncomfortable online. Cyberbullying refers to cruel or bullying messages sent to you online. These might be from former friends or other people you know. They can be irritating and, in some cases, even frightening.

If you get these bullying messages online, it's often better to ignore them rather than answer them. Cyberbullies, just like other bullies, may be angry or disturbed people — and may be looking for attention or a reaction.

Fortunately, most people never experience cyberbullying. But if you're getting cyberbullied and ignoring it doesn't make it go away, getting help from a parent, school counselor, or another trusted adult may be a good idea. That's especially true if the cyberbullying contains threats.

Online Annoyances Although email is relatively private, hackers can still access it — or add you to their spam lists. Spam, like advertisements or harassing or offensive notes, is annoying. But spam blockers can keep your mailbox from getting clogged. Many service providers will help you block out or screen inappropriate emails if your parents agree to set up age-appropriate parental controls.

If you don't recognize the sender of a document or file that needs to be downloaded, delete it without opening it to avoid getting a virus on your machine. Virus protection software is a must for every computer. You can also buy software that helps rid your computer of unwanted spyware programs that report what your computer is doing. Some service providers make software available to protect you from these and other online annoyances, such as blockers for those in-your-face pop-up ads.

If you do invest in protective software, you'll need to keep it updated to be sure it continues to do its job as new technologies evolve.

With all the problems you can face online, is it worth it? For most people, the answer is definitely yes. You just need to know where the pitfalls are, use some common sense and caution, and you'll be in control.

If you have any concerns, please see your school principal, guidance counsellor or call the police.