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Exercise and Immunize. Eat Right. Take Folic Acid Every Day. Be Web Safe.

How could we live without the Internet? It allows us to keep in touch with friends, find homework support, research a cool place to visit, or find out the latest news. But besides the millions of sites to visit and things to do, the Internet offers lots of ways to waste time — and even get into trouble. And just as in the non-cyber world, some people you encounter online might try to take advantage of you. When surfing the web, be smart about who you talk to and what you share.

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Stop. Think. Live Healthy.
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Social Web Tips for Teens

Reposted from ConnectSafely.org

Be your own person. Don't let friends or strangers pressure you to be someone you aren't. And know your limits. You may be Net-savvy, but people and relationships change, and unexpected stuff can happen on the Internet.

Be nice online. Or at least treat people the way you'd want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. If someone's mean to you, try to ignore them - often that makes them stop. Use privacy tools to block them from viewing your full profile and contacting you. Never respond to harassing or rude e-mails. Delete any unwanted messages or friends who continuously leave inappropriate comments. Only add people as friends to your site if you know them in real life.

Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends. Remember that posting information about your friends could put them at risk.

Passwords are private. Protect your identity and reputation online. Don't share your password even with friends. It's hard to imagine, but friendships change and you don't want to be impersonated by anyone. Pick a password you can remember but no one else can guess. One trick: Create a sentence like "I graduated from King School in 05," for this password: "IgfKSi05." Check the privacy settings of the social networking sites that you use.

Read between the "lines." It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they're trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.

Don't talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don't know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don't lead them on - you don't want to be the target of a predator's grooming. If they persist, call your local police or contact CyberTipline.com.

Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you're both in the same location, so -- to be 100% safe -- don't meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you "met" online, don't go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.

Be smart when using a cell phone. All the same tips apply with phones as with computers. Except phones are with you wherever you are, often away from home and your usual support systems. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.

In Addition

Know that there are rules many Internet Service Providers(ISP) have about online behavior. If you disobey an ISP's rules, your ISP may penalize you by disabling your account, and sometimes every account in a household, either temporarily or permanently.1

A friend you meet on line may not be the best person to talk to if you are having problems at home with your friends, or at school. If you cannot find an adult in your school, church, club, or neighborhood to talk to, Covenant House is a good place to call at 1-800-999-9999. The people there provide counseling to kids, refer them to local shelters, help them with law enforcement, and can serve as mediators by calling their parents.2

If you are thinking about running away, a friend from online may not be the best person to talk to. If there is no adult in your community you can find to talk to, call the National Runaway Switchboard at 1-800-621-4000. Although some of your online friends my seem to really listen to you, the Switchboard will be able to give you honest, useful answers to some of your questions about what to do when you are depressed, abused, or thinking about running away.3

We all remember the "buddy system" in kindergarten. Sure, you are no longer in kindergarten, but the system still works. If you are planning on meeting up with somebody you met online, bring a friend, or even your parents along with you and encourage your online acquaintance to bring theirs, too. It sounds stupid, but it's definitely the smart idea. At the very least, make sure your real friends know what you are doing.4

Sources:

1 www.missingkids.com 2 www.missingkids.com 3 www.missingkids.com 4 www.getnetwise.org
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Social Networking

Reposted from OnGuardOnline.gov

Your Safety's at Stake

The Federal Trade Commission suggests these tips for socializing safely online:

  • Think about how different sites work before deciding to join a site. Some sites will allow only a defined community of users to access posted content; others allow anyone and everyone to view postings.
  • Think about keeping some control over the information you post. Consider restricting access to your page to a select group of people, for example, your friends from school, your club, your team, your community groups, or your family.
  • Keep your information to yourself. Don't post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or bank and credit card account numbers -- and don't post other people's information, either. Be cautious about posting information that could be used to identify you or locate you offline. This could include the name of your school, sports team, clubs, and where you work or hang out.
  • Make sure your screen name doesn't say too much about you. Don't use your name, your age, or your hometown. Even if you think your screen name makes you anonymous, it doesn't take a genius to combine clues to figure out who you are and where you can be found.
  • Post only information that you are comfortable with others seeing -- and knowing -- about you. Many people can see your page, including your parents, your teachers, the police, the college you might want to apply to next year, or the job you might want to apply for in five years.
  • Remember that once you post information online, you can't take it back. Even if you delete the information from a site, older versions exist on other people's computers.
  • Consider not posting your photo. It can be altered and broadcast in ways you may not be happy about. If you do post one, ask yourself whether it's one your mom would display in the living room.
  • Flirting with strangers online could have serious consequences. Because some people lie about who they really are, you never really know who you're dealing with.
  • Be wary if a new online friend wants to meet you in person. Before you decide to meet someone, do your research: Ask whether any of your friends know the person, and see what background you can dig up through online search engines. If you decide to meet them, be smart about it: Meet in a public place, during the day, with friends you trust. Tell an adult or a responsible sibling where you're going, and when you expect to be back.
  • Trust your gut if you have suspicions. If you feel threatened by someone or uncomfortable because of something online, tell an adult you trust and report it to the police and the social networking site. You could end up preventing someone else from becoming a victim.
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Cyberbullying

Reposted from ConnectSafely.org

Don't respond. If someone bullies you, remember that your reaction is usually exactly what the bully wants. It gives him or her power over you. Who wants to empower a bully?

Don't retaliate. Getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully's behavior. Help avoid a whole cycle of aggression.

Save the evidence. The only good news about digital bullying is that the harassing messages can usually be captured, saved, and shown to someone who can help. You need to do this even if it's minor stuff, in case things escalate.

Talk to a trusted adult. You deserve backup. It's always good to involve a parent but -- if you can't -- a school counselor usually knows how to help. Sometimes both are needed. If you're really nervous about saying something, see if there's a way to report the incident anonymously at school.

Block the bully. If the harassment's coming in the form of instant messages, texts, or profile comments, do yourself a favor: Use preferences or privacy tools to block the person. If it's in chat, leave the “room.”

Be civil. Even if you don't like someone, it's a good idea to be decent and not sink to the other person's level. Also, research shows that gossiping about and trash talking others increases your risk of being bullied. Treat people the way you want to be treated.

Don't be a bully. How would you feel if someone harassed you? You know the old saying about walking a mile in someone's shoes; even a few seconds of thinking about how another person might feel can put a big damper on aggression. That's needed in this world.

Be a friend, not a bystander. Watching or forwarding mean messages empowers bullies and hurts victims even more. If you can, tell bullies to stop or let them know harassment makes people look stupid and mean. It's time to let bullies know their behavior is unacceptable -- cruel abuse of fellow human beings. If you can't stop the bully, at least try to help the victim and report the behavior.

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Contacting Service Providers

Reposted from Trend Micro, Internet Safety for Kids and Families, TrendMicro.com

Below is a list of contact information for some of the more popular social networking and instant messenger sites that you can use to report cyberbullying.

Bebo: Click on the ‘Report Abuse' link below the photo of a user's profile or below any specific content. Or submit a report at http://www.bebo.com/ContactUs.jsp

Facebook: Go to http://www.facebook.com/help.php?hq=report+abuse

Friendster: Go to the direct link at the bottom of profile pages or click the “Report Abuse” button on Group pages.

Hi5: Click on the “Report Abuse” link that appears on every member profile and photo

MySpace: Click “Contact Myspace” link at bottom of any page or go to http://www.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=misc.contact

AIM: Alert AOL via AOL Keyword: “Notify AOL” or by clicking on the “Notify AOL” button

MSN Messenger: Click the Help tab and choose the ‘Report Abuse' option or go to https://support.live.com/eform.aspx?productKey=wlmessengerabuse&ct=eformts

Yahoo! Messenger: Click the Help tab and choose the ‘Report Abuse' option, or go to http://abuse.yahoo.com

Contact your local mobile phone service, email service provider, or other online service to report abuse conducted through their services.

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Cellphone Safety Tips

Reposted from ConnectSafely.org

Smart socializing. Use the same good sense about what you post from your phone as from a computer. Once they're posted, text, photos, and video are tough to take back, can be copied and pasted elsewhere, and are up there pretty much forever. Think about the people in them (including you!). Reputations are at stake, and even more if nudity or sex is involved.

Bullying by phone. Because people socialize on cellphones as much as online, cyberbullying can be mobile too. Treat people on phones and the Web the way you would in person, and the risk of being bullied goes down.

Sexting. It's the same on phones as on the Web - do not take, send, post or even store on your phone nude photos of anyone under 18. You could be charged with production, distribution, or possession of child pornography, a serious crime. You could also be subjected to jokes, bullying, blackmail, expulsion from school, loss of a job, etc. and the images can circulate forever.

The value of "presence." If you do a lot of texting, consider the impact that being "elsewhere" might be having on the people around you. Your presence during meals, at parties, in the car, etc. is not only polite, it's a sign of respect and appreciated.

Down time is good. Constant texting and talking can affect sleep, concentration, school, and other things that deserve your thought and focus. Real friends understand there are times you just need to turn off the phone - harassment can happen between midnight and morning too.

Social mapping. Most cellphones now have GPS technology and there are a growing number of services that allow friends to pinpoint each other's physical location. If you use such a service, do so only with friends you know in person, and get to know the service's privacy features!

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Sex and Tech

Reposted from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy www.thenationalcampaign.org/sextech

5 Things To Think About Before Pressing "Send"

  1. Don't assume anything you send or post is going to remain private. Your messages and images will get passed around, even if you think they won't: 40% of teens and young adults say they have had a sexually suggestive message (originally meant to be private) shown to them and 20% say they have shared such a message with someone other than the person for whom it was originally meant.
  2. There is no changing your mind in cyberspace -- anything you send or post will never truly go away. Something that seems fun and flirty and is done on a whim will never really die. Potential employers, college recruiters, teachers, coaches, parents, friends, enemies, strangers and others may all be able to find your past posts, even after you delete them. And it is nearly impossible to control what other people are posting about you. Think about it: Even if you have second thoughts and delete a racy photo, there is no telling who has already copied that photo and posted it elsewhere.
  3. Don't give in to the pressure to do something that makes you uncomfortable, even in cyberspace. More than 40% of teens and young adults (42% total, 47% of teens, 38% of young adults) say "pressure from guys" is a reason girls and women send and post sexually suggestive messages and images. More than 20% of teens and young adults (22% total, 24% teens, 20% young adults) say "pressure from friends" is a reason guys send and post sexually suggestive messages and images.
  4. Consider the recipient's reaction. Just because a message is meant to be fun doesn't mean the person who gets it will see it that way. Four in ten teen girls who have sent sexually suggestive content did so "as a joke" but many teen boys (29%) agree that girls who send such content are "expected to date or hook up in real life." It's easier to be more provocative or outgoing online, but whatever you write, post or send does contribute to the real-life impression you're making.
  5. Nothing is truly anonymous. Nearly one in five young people who send sexually suggestive messages and images, do so to people they only know online (18% total, 15% teens, 19% young adults). It is important to remember that even if someone only knows you by screen name, online profile, phone number or email address, that they can probably find you if they try hard enough.
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For help or more information go to:

www.onguardonline.gov

www.getnetwise.org

www.isafe.org

www.missingkids.com

www.wiredsafety.org

www.staysafe.org

www.safeteens.com

www.blogsafety.com

blog.safetyclicks.com

TrendMicro.com

www.connectsafely.org

www.netsmartz.org/resources/reallife.htm

Teen Crisis Hotline 1-800-852-8336

National Runaway Switchboard 1-800-621-4000

Covenant House 9 Line 1-800-999-999