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Why is internet safety important? I mean, what’s the big deal? How dangerous can the virtual world really be?
Good question. Why don’t you ask the kids who’s ID was stolen last year? It’s so easy to steal kids’ identities when kids post so much of their personal information online.
Still wonder why it's important? Ask those who got raped or robbed by someone they met online.
Want another reason? Talk to the kids who got slapped with criminal charges – even jail time! They thought they were just posting a funny picture of their friends in their underwear. The judge saw them posting “child pornography”.
The big deal is that your life in the virtual world can have a huge impact on your life in the real world. Even innocent mistakes can have disastrous consequences.
If you care anything about stolen identity, stolen money, or stolen innocence then internet safety should be something you care about.
The list of online predators is not a small one, and they are THE reason to play it safe. Who is the worst? That’s a hard one to judge. Check out any of these items in the list below - and YOU decide who's worst:
ID theft is what happens when someone uses another person’s private identifying information – like usernames, passwords, bank accounts, credit card numbers, and so on. It is frequently used for financial gain, but not always.
So why is internet safety important for kids? Kids are notorious for not being careful with private information online – especially teenagers. According to internet safety statistics, teens are the #1 patrons of social networking sites (like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc). More and more teens are starting their own blogs and websites – again plastering their information all over those "contact us" pages.
This makes kids in general a particularly easy target.
One teen graduated to adulthood only to discover that her credit history had already been destroyed by an identity thief. She never even knew she had credit cards under her name!
Be careful about what you post and teach your kids to do the same.
What about privacy settings you ask? Those are great! If you’re using them, keep at it. This is a central aspect of internet safety.
But remember that privacy features only go so far.
Hacking is when someone manipulates the features of a system in order to do something different than what the original inventor of the system intended. Originally, hacking was supposed to be a fun and educational practice.
But now, it does both good AND bad.
Many hackers these days use their talent for unscrupulous activities – like breaking into large companies’ databases and selling proprietary information or the private information of their customers. Commercial companies and government agencies often hire legal hackers to keep the illegal hackers out.
But most of us don’t have hired hackers to protect our information, and these guys are good at what they do.
This is a popular form of identity theft.
Phishing is when con artists use email or fraudulent websites to get people’s private information – like passwords, usernames, bank accounts, credit card numbers, and so on. They usually send emails imitating trustworthy companies and direct you to a fake website where they are hoping you will enter your private information. If they don’t use the information themselves, they sell it to someone who will.
So why is internet safety important when using email? Banking sites? Insurance sites?
Because phishers are hoping you aren't carefully verifying the email address you are responding to or the site where you are logging in.
So be careful and guarded when sharing that information – and teach your kids to do the same.
You use privacy settings right? Good. The settings are generally safe - but they are not foolproof. Sometimes your information or your kid's information "leaks" from a well-meaning friend, giving someone else your private info in a careless way... often unintentionally.
That’s when the real bad guys get a hold of your private information.
Unless we follow the "Do's & Don'ts" of social networking, we often set ourselves up to be the next victim.
Why is internet safety important – even among friends? Children can be cruel – and if the BFF (Best Friends Forever) isn’t a BFF anymore, they can easily turn into a cyber bully.
Cyber bullying is when one kid is threatened, harassed, persecuted or humiliated by another kid using technology like the internet or cell phones.
Many times, kids hack into each other’s Facebook or Twitter accounts and make horrible posts or say terrible things using the victim’s account. Sometimes they get a hold of an embarrassing picture and text it to everyone they know. Sometimes they use identity theft or post Facebook advertisements offering the victim up for sex.
When the tormenting gets serious enough, kids can face criminal charges or even jail time. Some kids have been killed and others have committed suicide over the cyberbullying.
It gets that serious.
Kids have to protect themselves by not only using privacy settings, but by not sharing their private information with their friends – especially passwords. Just ask Detective Frank Griffitts.
And if your kid is the bullying type, they need to protect themselves by NOT being the cyber bully and risking the serious consequences that can follow.
Why is internet safety important when it comes to dating?
You don’t want to be robbed. Some online Juliet may profess her love only to steal your credit card number and disappear.
You don’t want to be abused. An online Romeo could fool his internet sweetheart into a date-rape situation. Sometimes internet pedophiles hunt through dating sites to find single parents who will give them easy access to new child-victims.
You have to be cautious not only with your money and private information, but with your children when you are dating someone online.
This is one more reason internet safety is important. Pedophiles online are getting better at finding victims.
There is the rare pedophile that poses as a teenager, gains access to all the child’s friends, and convinces the kids to meet individually and in person.
Then there is the more common pedophile who looks for rebellious teens who are flirty, perhaps a bit rebellious, and certainly curious about romance. Some will convince teens to take inappropriate pictures of themselves, then sexually exploit the teen through pedophile rings online. Other pedophiles offer to teach the curious adolescent about sexual things. Still others will profess their love to the teen and offer to “run away together”.
In all cases, the pedophiles online put children in danger offline.
So why is internet safety important? I’m sure you can see now. Whether by accident or on purpose, more kids and adults are getting in trouble because of what they do online.
When the virtual world has such an impact on the real world, it’s important to treat cyberspace seriously.
Be safe. Learn internet safety rules and follow them.
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