The internet is a world of new information and people. Every day people use it as it was intended – a wildly valuable resource in nearly every aspect of life. 

As with all things, though, there are dangers. Here are some basic safety tips to make your time on the internet all good and no bad.

Protect Your Personal Information

Never give out personal information! This cannot be understated. It’s very tiring to hear again and again, but it bears repeating since it can be so tempting. There are many situations where we may want to get together with friends or share some personal experiences we’ve had, but it’s very important to do this with extreme caution or not at all.

Be sure to ask your guardian’s permission (or a trusted adult) before you enter a new website, especially if it involves chat-rooms (source). It’s tedious and irritating for both of you, definitely, but it is a critical step in exploring the internet. Any adult you trust could know things about websites you think are obscure and new, while they could be masking what they truly are.

Know when to get off the computer. If someone is making you feel uncomfortable, or something is happening that you don’t think is right (someone else is being harshly bullied, illegal activities are being discussed, etc.), it’s never too late to flip the switch, turn the computer off and go do another enjoyable activity. Tell a trusted adult what happened, then they can deal with anything that needs to be taken care of.

Ask to Install a VPN Software

Talk to a trusted adult about installing a VPN. This provides an extra layer of protection between any user and the internet. Some services, such as RA4W VPN (source) can provide remote access and low-cost answer to tracking worries online. Some websites will want to find where you are, like stores to send you advertisements, and a VPN will allow you to misdirect them. 

Services like this can also offer anonymity in online forums or other situations where you may want to keep your distance. VPNs make going to new websites a much safer and more worry-free process, so your favourite trusted adult doesn’t have to be as concerned when you ask to go to a new website.

Do Your Research

Check your sources! When writing a report or just chatting with friends, it’s easy to find something online that you agree with and trust it. Sometimes, people write things online that aren’t true. They might do it for money, power, or social gain. Always research the author of anything you read on the internet and decide whether you deem them trustworthy enough to read anything else by them.

If you find something confusing on the internet, be sure to ask a trusted adult about it. 

Being confused or unaware is a very vulnerable state since anyone could tell you that anything means whatever they want it to. It’s critical to talk to a parent or guardian about anything you’re unsure of in any way.

Avoid Sharing Your Personal Pictures

It’s never a good idea to share pictures of yourself on the internet (source). 

People can use these pictures in ways we can’t even imagine right now. Once something goes on the internet, it stays there forever (source). There’s plenty of ways to use someone else’s picture in unkind ways already, let alone one, five or ten years from now. 

Share as little of yourself as possible with the utmost caution, or nothing at all. 

Be sure to ask a trusted adult if you’re unsure whether you can talk about something with someone online. You may be better off discussing it with your trustworthy friend anyhow.

Don’t Open Suspicious Links or Download Files

Never download files or install anything onto any computer without the explicit permission of a trusted adult. It could be a simple matter of the capabilities of the physical computer; the machine could be low on space. Sometimes, though, download and install links are tricks. 

This can be hard to detect to an untrained eye, so be sure to talk to a trusted adult before you click one of these buttons to be sure it won’t install a virus instead of what was originally intended.

Think Twice! Be Smart, Careful.

Don’t forget, the internet is a wonderful place! It’s full of excitement, beauty and information. 

But, just like anything else, there can be dangerous parts, tricks and traps. 

Be smart, and be careful. Think twice before you share information, and have an ongoing, open dialogue with a trusted adult about what you’re looking at and what you’re looking for. 

Ask questions, and have an open mind.

Article written by Bram Jansen