What Does Mean?

What are the Dangers? How Do I Avoid Them?

Be careful about what you do, say, and share – and even where you “go” online – so you can lower your chance of getting into trouble.

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Privacy & Reputation

With enough information, anyone – parents, teachers and even strangers – can figure out who you are, where you live, your school or work, as well as the things you like to do.

It’s hard to “take back” or explain something you put online and it’s almost impossible to make it go away once you do. Think about what you share. If you write mean posts about others, post photos of yourself or friends doing illegal things or share sexual photos, it could come back to haunt you – the next day or even years later.

No post or text is worth getting suspended from school, losing a scholarship or job, ruining a friendship or putting yourself in danger!

How to stay safe

Start protecting yourself by checking the privacy settings on your phone and computer and learning how to control who can see what you share on websites and social media.  You can even wait until you’re older to set up social media profiles and you shouldn’t lie about your age just to get an account.

Always remember that what you share, click, download, text, post, “like,” or forward may not stay private, even if you hit “delete.”  If you’re feeling angry or upset about something, calm down before you post about it. Sometimes it’s best not to post about things that make you mad at all (#overshare).

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Cyberbullying is when someone shares a mean, embarrassing or threatening email, text message or post to or about another person. It’s basically bullying someone over the internet. Sometimes it starts out as a joke among friends and spreads to others – even strangers, very quickly. Cyberbullies share false information or post embarrassing photos of others without their permission; trick people into saying things; and share mean messages and posts to make another person look bad. Sometimes cyberbullying and real life bullying (like being harassed at school, at work or in the community) happen at the same time.

Some young people are especially at risk for cyberbullying. Those who seem “different” from others because of sexual orientation or other differences like being under or overweight or even new to a school, can put teens at greater risk. (View Source)

Cyberbullies might pretend they are someone else online. They may even pretend to be your friend! Some teens who are cyberbullies might be concerned about their popularity or like to control others. Many are themselves depressed or anxious, have low self-esteem and are easily pressured by others. (View Source)

Bullying and cyberbullying are bad for everyone involved: those who are being bullied, those who are causing it and even bystanders! (View Source) Victims and bystanders are more likely than others to experience anxiety and depression as a result of bullying and cyberbullying. So if you notice someone being bullied, tell a trusted adult. Those who cyberbully can get into trouble at school, with law enforcement, and they might continue these risky behaviors when they grow up. (View Source)

How to stay safe

Keep account logins and passwords private. Don’t share them with anyone! Be careful about what you say about others online (even as a joke).

Always refuse to take part in cyberbullying – don’t like or share posts that could be embarrassing to another person. If it happens to you or you see it happening to someone else, tell a trusted adult right away.

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Some teens don’t know that sharing naked or partially naked photos of themselves or others (sometimes calling “sexting”) can be a crime. It is illegal to forward, send, share, take or keep sexual photos of anyone under the age of 18 (which is the age of consent) on your phone or computer.

Even teens who say that sexting is wrong might think it is okay to share sexual photos with a friend or romantic partner. Regardless of age, those caught sharing sexual images of anyone – even themselves – under the age of 18 could be charged with distributing child pornography.

Besides the legal problems that can come from sexting, it can cause real emotional pain, too. When relationships or friendships end, photos sent between two people don’t disappear, and they might be shared online in the future.

How to stay safe

Never share or download sexual, nude or partially nude photos of yourself or others. Resist the urge to engage in sexting or cybersex on your computer – even with someone you know and trust.

If someone you don’t know sends you nude or sexual photos, tell a trusted adult right away. If another teen that you know sends you sexual photos and you don’t feel comfortable telling an adult, make sure you delete them. Never share the photos you receive! Don’t accept friend requests or chat with people you don’t know.

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Sexual Predators

“Sexy” talk or sharing of photos and personal information online with strangers is one of the most dangerous things a person can do. Unless you’ve met the person face to face, you can’t really know if the person you’re talking with is telling the truth about who they are.

Adult sexual predators sometimes pretend to be teens online so they can get teens to meet in person, with plans to convince – or even force – them to have sex or do other criminal things.

Adults who send sexual messages or photos or attempt to have sex or cybersex with anyone under 18 can be arrested and charged as a “child predator.”

How to stay safe

Don’t post sexy messages. Only accept friend requests from people you know in real life. Be super cautious if someone you met online asks to meet you in person. If you’re thinking about meeting up with someone you only know online, tell a parent or trusted adult. Take them with you to the meeting and only agree to meet in a public place where you feel safe.

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Other Online Risks

There are great websites, like 216Teens, on the internet that have real health information, but there are also some bad ones out there. The bad ones could lead you to buy, believe or do things that can harm your health.  For example, some websites and ads promote drugs, advice or “cures” for STDs, depression, pregnancy, weight loss and other “easy fixes” that don’t work. Other sites contain violent, hateful content that could be upsetting. Once you’ve clicked, it’s impossible to “unsee” it!

Even spending too much time online can be bad for your mental, emotional and physical health. (View Sources: [1] and [2])

How to stay safe

Be careful where you go online and remember that just because something is published on the internet doesn’t mean it’s real or legit. Some things you might find online are made up, staged and edited to sell you something or impress others.  If you’re tempted to try something that sounds like a quick-fix, talk to a healthcare provider before you waste your money or put your health at risk.

Of course, most people know that texting while driving is super dangerous. It kills thousands of people every year, so don’t take a chance. (View Source) Don’t text while driving and refuse to ride with anyone who does it.

Try to set limits on how much time you spend online each day. Remember that real life happens in the real world, not online