The Internet is an integral part of modern teenage life and many young people find it almost impossible to imagine life without it. From social media sites and streaming videos to instant messaging and online shopping or games, most teens are using the Internet almost constantly.
Though it may feel like a safe environment, going online is not without risks as the anonymous nature of the Internet makes it easy for people to hide their identity or their true intentions. The following will help you understand the most important aspects of Internet safety.
Beware of Predators
It is all too easy to fake an online profile. Just because someone claims to be a particular age or gender, or claims to be sending you a genuine self-portrait, it may not always be the case.
The Internet has created a completely new class of predators who specialize in targeting teens and young people online. They can be wholly convincing and will often spend weeks or months slowly gaining your trust in order to get you to hand over personal information or to agree to meet with them.
Although you might think you would always be able to see through such a deception, many teenagers have been caught in this way. Always be cautious about what information you give out about yourself while online and stay on your guard. If you decide to meet with someone you only know through the Internet, never go alone; tell your parents or an adult friend beforehand and insist that the meeting is in a public place.
No one controls the Internet, which means no one decides what should and should not be made available. It is all too easy to stumble across content or sites that contain material that could upset or frighten you. If your parents insist on adding software to your computer that prevents you from accessing certain parts of the Internet, try not to be offended or angry, as it simply means they are looking out for you, not that they no longer love or trust you.
Most moms and dads spend so long focused on the bad elements of the Internet that they forget about its many benefits. So long as you take the proper precautions, there should be no cause for concern about your Internet use. It can be extremely helpful for parents to receive assurances that you are fully aware of the dangers that the Internet presents and that you know how to protect yourself while online.
Increasingly, homework tasks require you to look up specific information on the Internet, which means that not having access can make it difficult to be successful in school.
The ability to tap into the wealth of information available online and have it trigger your curiosity about the wider world can help you decide what career path to follow, or inspire you to get involved in new hobbies and interests. The Internet also contains many resources that can assist you with your schoolwork. This in turn can help ensure you receive the kind of successful education that will serve you well for many years to come.
The ability to communicate instantly with friends and family members, and to make contact with others who share similar interests, is just one of the social benefits for teens who use the Internet responsibly. The Internet can be particularly useful if you have friends abroad or want to stay in touch with people while you are traveling.
So long as you always bear in mind that your safety is a priority when you are online, the Internet can be of enormous benefit to various aspects of your life.