5 Best Practices for Teens to Stay Safe Online

The internet is an essential part of our lives. It’s our go-to resource for everything from shopping to learning to entertainment. Being online has become an important aspect of the daily routine. This is true for both adults and children, and it’s especially true for teenagers. But with all the good must come bad, making proper safety a must for any online interactions. If you’re a teenager, taking a little time to learn about these best online practices for teen safety can help you know what to do to protect yourself when you go online.

Password Management

A password is the easiest way to keep a computer or account secure. It’s also the easiest way to screw things up. A weak password is only slightly better than no password, so take the time to come up with something a bit more complex than normal to protect your accounts and information. Strong passwords use capital and lowercase letters, numbers, symbols and anything else you could feasibly use to make them more random. You should also make it a point to use a new password for each account no matter how much of a pain it is,  and don’t offer to save passwords on a shared computer. 

Limit Where Your Information Is

No matter how cautious you might be, sometimes things go wrong. While things can go wrong in many ways, one of them is a data breach where a large company’s internal servers are hacked, and the information stored there is released to the public. The released data often includes the personal information of whoever uses their services. There are very few ways to protect your identity from data breaches as you have no control over their security, as seen quite clearly in the recent Equifax breach. About the only thing you can do to stop this from happening is to limit where your information is stored to begin with. Do you best to be careful about choosing which companies get what kind of information from you. A simple way to do this is to think over whether or not you’d like to connect accounts or fill out personal information, like addresses and phone numbers, when creating accounts on different websites.

Curate Your Web Presence

Curating your web presence is one way to help protect your identity while you’re online. The saying goes that nothing is ever gone on the internet, and, while that’s largely true, you can take steps to get close to that. Going back over the things you post to delete stuff that might be used against you is a good idea. Even if archives exist, it’s much more difficult for people to find this kind of stuff without lots of effort and digging on their part. It’s also a good idea to limit your presence to those you trust with the use of privacy settings on accounts, helping to eliminate prying eyes on your pages altogether.

Don’t Overshare

There’s an uncomfortable amount of oversharing that’s both seen as appropriate and often required when having a presence online. Whether you’re a famous YouTuber or just some random kid with a blog, the temptation and expectation are that you’ll update your followers on every aspect of your life. This is a bad idea if you intend to have any privacy whatsoever. Protect your privacy by speaking vaguely about identifying details in your life, and take care not to be too blatant about where you live or other things that might lead people to discover things you don’t want them to know. Additionally, try to remind yourself to question why you feel the need to post something else, especially when everyone, not just your friends and family, will be able to see it.

Set Boundaries

Above all else, setting boundaries with people you know online is a crucial skill to have. The internet has connected us in ways thought unimaginable even just a few decades ago, but this connectivity has also eroded our sense of privacy. Whether it’s with friends or just strangers lurking on your social media profile, set boundaries with how people interact with you. If someone’s asking for too much information, getting too friendly or is just generally making you uncomfortable, set boundaries. There’s no shame in asserting yourself.

The internet can be both an exciting and scary place, so it’s necessary to take some precautions in order to have a good time. Follow these best practices for safety to keep yourself out of trouble online. 

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