Computers, the internet, cell phones, and social media are all great communication tools for teens. But, it’s important to be safe when you are using technology and to take the necessary steps to protect yourself from abusive or dangerous people using technology. Below are some tips on how to stay safe while using technology.
Computer and Internet
Avoid visiting websites you are not familiar with or do not trust.
Be careful if you have a webcam on your computer. Make sure you turn the camera off when you are not using it.
Check out this information to make sure you are using a safe computer.
Perform regular checks to make sure no one is monitoring or tracking your computer and Internet activity without your knowledge.
Save and print any evidence of computer monitoring or abusive behavior from others.
Consider using a public computer if you are worried that someone is monitoring your personal computer,. Be sure to log out of all your accounts when you finish using a public computer.
Texting and Cell Phones
It’s okay if you don’t text someone back immediately or answer a phone call. No one has the right to get angry or to hurt you for not responding.
You don’t have to answer calls or respond to texts from unknown or private phone numbers.
Threats over text are never okay. Don’t respond to aggressive, hostile, harassing, or abusive texts.
It is a good idea to save and/or print any threatening text messages you receive. It is proof of what is happening. It can be used to talk to an adult and can even be used in court if you need a protective order.
You are in control of your own body and sexuality, so don’t allow someone to pressure you into sexting. Did you know that all nude pictures of people under 18 are considered child pornography?
Want to block a number? Look into the options your phone company provides regarding blocking numbers. Talk to your parents about this and complete a safety plan before doing so.
Make sure you are in a safe situation before cutting off contact with your abusive partner. Talking to a supportive adult about your safety is very important when deciding to end an unhealthy or abusive relationship. The abuser may become unpredictable, so it important to create a safety plan.
Remember, you do not have to share your passwords with anyone.
Don’t disclose personal information (home address, cell phone number, etc.) that you do not want available to everyone, including strangers. If you are worried about someone following you, do not post information about your whereabouts.
Remember that everything you post online will always be there. Even if you delete it, there are ways for people to access what you have said.
Try not to respond to any abusive or harassing messages or posts. Save or print these messages before you delete them in case you need them for evidence at any point.
Ask your friends or partner for their permission before posting personal information on their social media sites.
Be careful of check-ins (ex: on Foursquare, Facebook, or Yelp); if you check in somewhere, then everyone knows exactly where you are. Ask your friends if it is okay for you to check-in with them before doing so.