These days, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when many people work and school at a distance, much of our lives are spent online. And social media is not just for young people anymore, different platforms have become the norm for all ages. Sure, it has its benefits, such as catching up with people you would not otherwise be allowed to visit, but it can also be harmful if not used properly. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself online, plus some tips especially for teens.
Google it: Let's be honest, not many people actually read the privacy policies before signing up for a popular social media service. But someone has it! And even more have already tried to find out many of the disadvantages of all the social media that you are considering using. So before you sign up for a new social media account, you can take advantage of that knowledge by googling "the dangers of", "privacy issues" or "things you should know before signing up."
Learn how to block, turn off, and report: If someone is harassing you or posting inappropriate content, do not engage. Make sure you know how to take action to block anyone who crosses a border and how to report them to the site or service if their behavior violates the user agreement.
Be careful when sharing data: All personally identifiable information you share online may be "stolen" by hackers and used for unnecessary purposes. Be careful when sharing things like your birthday, phone number, credit card or social security number. Do not store your credit card number on websites and anonymize your information whenever possible.
Use a password manager: A password manager can help you create solid passwords that are less likely to be detected or stolen by others. Even better, it will remember the passwords for you!
Teen Social Media Safety:
Teenagers may be particularly vulnerable to the dangers of social media. Here are some tips on social media that you can share with your teens:
Manage your followers: Limit your followers to people you actually know and have a relationship with in real life.
Send with your future in mind: Keeping your account private or carefully controlled on any platform is a good idea and will probably save a lot of heartache in the long run. But we all know that it's easy for others to screenshot everything you put online. Many colleges and employers today look at applicants' social media to find out what kind of person they are. So everything you send can come back to haunt you. Remember that the best way to keep something private is not to post it at all.
Share with a trusted adult: For today's teens, online life is real. So if you are being bullied, harassed or harassed online, do not keep it to yourself. Get help from a trusted adult for support and to help you resolve any conflicts or scary situations you find yourself in online.
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