Some of my friends have met some really cool people while in chatrooms. Why do I want to steer clear of talking to strangers online?
You would never strike up a conversation and share private details of your life with a complete stranger while out and about. Same goes while you are online! Even though you aren’t face-to-face, you’re still talking to a total stranger. You don’t know who they are, where they live, or whether they are dangerous or not. It’s best to chat only with those you know and trust.
I didn’t think the Internet could be all that dangerous, but I keep hearing all of these scary stories! Is there a safe way to surf?
Surfing the Internet can be a lot of fun. You can learn a ton and there are a million fun games to play. But, the Internet can also play tricks on you. A Web site might offer you a prize, like money or a free bike. Sounds great, huh?! The problem is that there never really is a prize. They just want to get your name and address so they can send you more spam. If you ever are confused about whether or not to enter your personal information, check with a parent or adult. Better yet, just ignore the offer.
P.S.—News YOU can use: Children 13 years and younger are protected by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. If you are 13 years old or younger and a Web site asks for your personal information, that site must ask for your parent’s approval before they ask for and use your information.
What if someone who looks nice approaches me and asks for assistance? Mom and dad sometimes lend a hand to strangers. What is the big deal?
You should never offer to assist a complete stranger by yourself. You don’t know what they want, no matter how cool they appear. If a stranger approaches you for help with groceries or for directions, tell them that you will find an adult to lend a hand. If a stranger doesn’t leave you alone, walk quickly to the closest safe place like a school, library, neighbor’s house, fire or police station, or hospital.
If someone rings your doorbell, use the peephole in the door or a side window to identify who is there. It might be a friend or neighbor. If you don’t know them well, do not answer the door—even if they just want to use the bathroom or the phone. Find a parent or adult immediately.
Chances are if you feel like the situation is weird and uncomfortable, it is! If you feel major pressure to do something that could put you in danger, call 9-1-1 (if you are near a phone) or scream HELP and run away. It’s nice to lend a hand, but your safety comes first.
There is this kid at school that keeps picking on me—at my locker, on the way to the bus, and before lunch. Can I give it right back to him?
You can and should stand up for yourself! This is when those one-liners you practice with your parents can be helpful. Have some things to say in the right moment. Sometimes even a joke lightens the mood. But, you should never get into a fight (either physical or verbal) with a bully. Just walk calmly away. Bullies often times pick on people that are ‘easy targets’ so try not to let them get to you. They probably know the person they pick on will get frustrated or upset. If the situation becomes violent, be sure to get out of there and to report the situation to your mom, dad or teacher. Remember the 3 R’s – have Respect for yourself, Respect for others and Responsibility for your actions.