These days, adolescents and teens are probably pretty tired of hearing about why they shouldn’t be an open book on the internet. However, that still does not take away from the fact that the internet can be a risky space. Not only are internet users exposed to potentially offensive content on a daily basis, but cyberspace is also riddled with people harboring malicious intent.
Hackers, predators, cyberbullies, scammers and other such unscrupulous entities are prowling around on the world wide web 24/7. With one wrong click, an unprepared and unsuspecting young adult could quickly become an easy target for any of them.
Staying safe on the internet has become fairly important, especially now more than ever, with the pandemic keeping people at home and turning toward online schooling. With that in mind, here is a crash course on internet safety for all teenagers out there so that they can get the most out of their networking experience without putting themselves in dangerous situations.
Keep your accounts private
Keeping your social media accounts private is the first step towards ensuring that unwanted people don’t have access to your digital footprint, but things don’t end there. Having a lot of online followers sounds like a tempting offer, but don’t forget that these people, once on your follower list, have the power to literally follow your every move.
To make sure that only the people you trust are able to see what you post, don’t accept any random follower requests, either. Also, always be sure to verify that the person who follows you online and their real-life counterpart is the same entity.
Use a good VPN
A paid VPN service not only blocks your IP address and repels trackers, but also blocks ads and malware to give your internet browsing experience an extra layer of protection. Another perk of a VPN is that you can become an online tourist. With it, you can view content in other countries that may not be available in yours, all over a fast and stable connection. So really, there is simply no reason to not use one.
Don’t turn off the “under 18” filter
Most social media sites usually tend to have an “under 18” filter in place. When activated, these filters can help prevent minors from viewing content that has been labeled as “not safe For work” (that is, explicit content that has been deemed unsuitable for minors, such as gore or adult content).
The filter blurs NSFW content so that you are not able to view the content unless you click on it to verify that you are over the age of 18. For the most part, this filter will help prevent you from accidentally seeing offensive photographs and media, so it is wise for you to keep it on at all times.
Don’t use the same password
Your passwords are the only thing blocking a hacker from gaining access to all the accounts that you have over the internet, so the stronger they are, the better. A common mistake that a lot of people make is setting the same password for all of the accounts they create. While this can make the password easier to remember, it is a gateway for a hacker to quickly gain control of all your other accounts.
Once they figure out the password of one, the rest will become fair game. Instead, be sure to set up passwords that are difficult to guess by using Google’s automatic password generator. Moreover, to make sure that you are extra-safe, get into the habit of periodically changing the passwords of all your accounts at least once every few months.
Only use trusted wiFi connections
Make sure that you are connected to a safe and stable wifi network, especially if you are logging in to a personal account. You will also want to be mindful of this while you are purchasing something online or entering banking or credit card information. Avoid wiFi networks in cafes or public spaces, as many people use them at the same time, and one of them could gain access to the information on your device.
If you have been the victim of a traumatic incident on the internet, whether it is from a cyberattack or online bullying, the best way to handle it is to talk to someone about the pain you have been experiencing. Trauma therapy can help you feel better, so if you have been hurting, don’t be afraid to reach out! Trained counselors are ready to help you.
We hope that these tips serve as a great base guide to help you keep yourself safe on the internet, without compromising all the fun stuff that the internet has to offer. And always remember that if you find yourself in a stressful situation on the web, there is plenty of help available. You don’t have to keep it in, and you don’t have to feel guilty for being a victim of an online crime.
Article written by Anne Davis
This article was written by the guest author listed at the end of the article.