As a 21st Century citizen you have access to a lot of technology, including mobile devices and the internet. You have access to computers at school as well. Whether you realize it or not, there are dangers attached to moving around in cyberspace. Cyberbullying, online predators and identity theft are just a few of these dangers. Below is some information that might help you understand how to protect yourself and others. Talk to your parents or another trusted adult if you ever have a concern, or use the 'Share a Concern' button on the left to report a concern anonymously. Check out the Common Sense Media website for a lot of interesting information, including games and videos.
"Digital citizenship is the ability to think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly in the digital world."(Source:www.commonsense.org/education/digital-citizenship).
This means for example, that when you do research on the internet, you are able to recognize what source you can trust, and which one might not be reliable. A good digital citizen protects themselves and others from being hurt. As a good digital citizen, you also know how to communicate appropriately online.
Cyberbullying is one phenomenon that came out of the explosion of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc. Cyberbullying can have devastating effects on kids. You only have to do a search on YouTube on 'cyberbullying', and watch some of the stories to understand the problem.
It is easy to call someone a name online. It is easy to chime in on online conversations that are targeting someone in specific. Remember that online communication is written in ink, you can't erase it. You cannot take back what you wrote. There are rules about how to communicate online, including appropriate language.
Watch a BrainPop video with guidelines on how to behave on the internet.Take the BrainPop quiz after watching the video. See how well you do!
There are a number of common sense rules to follow to stay safe online. Below are a few listed from the Common Sense Media website.
- Never give any personal information to anyone you meet online. That means first or last names, phone numbers (they can be used to track down your home), passwords, birth dates or years, or credit card information.
- Never meet up with anyone you don't already know. Don't tell anyone your schedule; don't say where you'll be hanging out. No party announcements. People are often not who they say they are. It's true: 1 in 5 kids will be sexually solicited online.
- Don't fill out any "fun" questionnaires that are forwarded to you, even if they're from your friends. Remember, you're in a world where everything can get forwarded. All those personal things about you could land in the hands of someone who could use them to harm you.
- Make sure you know everyone on your buddy list. If you haven't met the people face-to-face, they may not be who they pretend to be. Also, Instant Messaging strangers is an invasion of their privacy.
- You do not have to answer emails or IMs from people you don't know. As a matter of fact, you shouldn't. Who knows who they are? Even if they say they're "David's friend," David could be a lucky guess. "Kids" you meet in chat rooms may actually be creepy adults.
- There's no such thing as "private" on the Internet. You may think so, but it's not true. People can find anything they want — and keep what you post — forever.
- Be careful about posting pictures of yourself. (If you must, don't post sexy ones or ones showing behavior you wouldn't want your mom, teacher, boss, or potential college advisor to see). Just because an older sibling has posted snaps on a site doesn't make it a smart or a safe idea. Pictures with identifiers like where you go to school can be shopping lists for online predators and other creeps.
- Don't send pictures of other people. Forwarding an embarrassing picture of someone else is a form of bullying. How would you like it if someone did that to you?
- Don't download content without your parents' permission. Many sites have spyware that will damage your computer. Other sites have really inappropriate content. Your parents can check your computer's URL history, so you can't hide where you've been.
- Never share your password with anyone but your parents.
If you have a concern about anyone you know in regards to cyber safety or bullying, click on the Share a Concern link and fill out the form. It will be sent to the appropriate person.
Stay safe online, and keep your friends safe!