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Internet Safety

Have you ever ...

  • Communicated online privately with someone you've never met face-to-face?
  • Talked about meeting someone you only know from email, IM or online chat?
  • Used acronyms like PIR (Parent In Room) or POS (Parent Over Shoulder) to let someone know your parents are in the room so you can hide conversations from them?
  • Found out that someone you were talking to online was an adult pretending to be much younger?
  • Pretended to be older or younger than you really are in email, IM or online chat?
  • Answered personal questions about your age, sex or location in email, IM or online chat?
  • Sent a picture of yourself to someone you've never met face-to-face?
  • Created a profile that others can see or link to from your screen name?
  • Created a private email account with passwords that your parents don't know about?
  • Opened email and attachments from strangers?
  • Talked online about sexual topics or received sexually explicit links in email, IM or online chats?
  • Been solicited by an adult online and not told your parents?

If you answered "YES" to any of the questions above, then you are definitely taking risks online.

Did you know that ...

  • Child molesters are known to use the Internet to meet their victims?
  • A 13 year old cheerleader and honors student was killed in 2002 by a sexual predator she met online?
  • A 13-year-old girl was abducted from her home and murdered by a man she met in a chatroom? Signs of a struggle in her home showed that she didn't know he was coming to see her and she didn't want to leave the house with him.
  • A 13-year-old boy from Vermont committed suicide after being bullied online by students at his school?
  • Although experts differ on the exact percentage, the majority of email traffic is now spam?
  • The MyDoom virus collected user names and passwords from between 200,000 to 300,000 computers worldwide in January 2004?
  • Websites with adult or illegal content, or those that offer 'pirated' software, often try to automatically load damaging software onto your computer?

Do you know how to take care of yourself online?

A good way to start is to follow the 4R's ...


RECOGNIZE techniques used by Internet predators to groom, deceive or intimidate their victims ...

  • In Stage 1 of the grooming process, Internet predators typically collect information from your profile or chat, disguise their own identity, and pretend to have common interests with you.
  • In Stage 2, they typically support your point of view in online conflicts or offline arguments that you tell them about, pretend to be the only person who understands you, and become your IM or chat buddy.
  • In Stage 3, they typically ask you to keep the friendship a secret, exchange email addresses and phone numbers with you, and use more adult-oriented language and materials.
  • In Stage 4, they typically talk more about adult experiences and sexual topics, gradually introduce more sexual photos and pictures into conversations, encourage you to be sexually curious, and to believe that sex between adults and minors is normal.
  • In Stage 5, they typically use threats of violence or public humiliation if you stop communicating or refuse to meet in person.
  • In the Final Stage of the grooming process, Internet predators achieve their ultimate goal of arranging a face-to-face meeting with you.

techniques used by cyber-bullies ...

  • Cyber bullies typically send threatening emails and nasty messages in IM.
  • They might send repeated notes to your mobile or cell phone.
  • Sometimes, they set up a website to mock you and encourage others to post comments about you.
  • They might use your ID and passwords to pretend to be you while posting a message.
  • They might forward photos and private information about you to others.

and techniques used to threaten your computer security ...

  • Malicious code such as viruses, worms and Trojan horses are typically spread between computers without the users realizing it.
  • They may be contained in files attached to emails, websites with adult or illegal content, or those that offer 'pirated' software.
  • Some viruses use spoof email addresses to make it look as though a friend or a legitimate business sent the email to you.
  • Authentic-looking emails might ask you for your passwords or account details, and threaten closure of services unless you provide them.

REFUSE all requests for personal information (name, address, phone, school name, passwords or family information), to keep an online relationship secret, to arrange a secret face-to-face meeting, to open attachments from people you don't know, and to click on links in spam emails.


RESPOND assertively by exiting the program (chat room, IM, online game), logging off or turning off the computer, using the back button on your browser, and leaving suspicious emails unopened.


REPORT any suspicious or dangerous contact that makes you feel uncomfortable to your parents, your school, your local law enforcement office and the ISP.

There are lots of good websites and resources for teens that address online safety issues. One of the best for teens is Websafe Crackerz. This site was designed with the help of teenagers and uses interactive games and puzzles to offer strategies for dealing with all kinds of situations. Other sites offer downloadable leaflets, booklets and posters. You can find many of these by going to Kids_and_Teens/Computers/Internet/Safety .
   Last update: 2006-10-09
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