KEYS TO ONLINE SAFETY AND RESPONSIBILITY
Remember when social media came in “chat rooms,” and kids were advised not to share their real names with online strangers? Picture today’s middle school student trying to grasp that concept.
The Basics of Safe Surfing
Although online threats are most likely to come as con artists and propaganda propagators, it’s still wise for young Internet surfers (and their parents) to avoid exposing person or property to unnecessary danger.
- Never accept an electronic “meet me somewhere” invitation from someone you only know online.
- Keep your full address off your account.
- Use discretion in posting family-vacation plans. Even if your exact address isn’t online, your name, hometown, and parents’ places of employment are enough for someone to locate your unoccupied house.
- Never give out bank or credit-card information over anything but a private and secure network.
- Don’t answer online pleas for “help”—even if they (allegedly) come from contacts you know personally. Social media information can be copied into bogus accounts.
- Keep most details of your family’s problems in the closed groups. There are swindlers out there hunting for people desperate enough to throw money at false promises of jobs or miracle cures.
Also, don’t throw personal insults at anyone via the social network. While it’s unlikely anyone will come around in the flesh to make you take it back, giving someone a piece of your mind is never worth the immediate rush of gratification.
- It never convinces anyone they were wrong: if anything, it makes them mad enough to dig in their heels even harder.
- It rarely gives you the last word, either. If the original poster doesn’t return the insult, some other reader of the thread will. Find a better use of your time than getting drawn into an endless argument.
- It generates a negative attitude that can carry over into other areas of your life. You don’t really want to become a perpetual grumbler, do you?
(When you do comment on someone else’s thread, try to add something more useful to the discussion than a generic “Great idea!” compliment.)
What Shall I Post Today?
When originating threads yourself, do what you can to initiate productive, positive discussions.
- A cheerful quote with bright graphics does a lot to spread happiness and hope.
- Don’t make all your images full-face “selfies”: show interest in the rest of the world. Nature scenes go over well. So do pictures of people actually doing things, such as preparing the family recipe you’re sharing.
- Most people these days don’t laugh enough. Put up something that evokes chuckles, such as a picture of your dog in a zany pose. Or a laugh-at-yourself story/image of “my first attempt at creating a papier-mâché sculpture.”
- If you reply to others’ comments on your threads, be genuinely appreciative of advice and compliments. And as already noted, most points of disagreement are best kept to yourself.
- Finally, never say anything online that you wouldn’t say onstage in a public auditorium. Because you are speaking in public.