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Wise on the Web
Wise on the Web
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Wise on the Web

Being connected to your friends, family and everyone else online can be awesome and become a huge part of our day to day lives. But it’s important to remember that nothing we do online is totally private- that includes emails, text messages and even the apps we use on your own phones.

Don’t worry, you’re in control of how much or how little you want to share with your friends, your networks and the world. As long as you know how to use social media and the internet safely, you can protect yourself. Make sure you know how to set your privacy setting, use hashtags and protect your passwords in a way that help you share only what you want to, with who you want to.

FAQs

How can I make my phone safe?

Just like you put a case on your phone to protect it on the outside, you can protect your apps and personal info on the inside. If you’re not sure what info your apps have access to, you can review app permissions through your phone’s privacy settings. In your settings, you can also make sure location settings are off and that your phone isn’t regularly charging your or your parent’s credit card or posting on your social networks. Ask an older person if you need help with any of this.

Make sure to only interact with people that you know online. Be suspicious of usernames you don’t know and if strangers try to contact you be aware they may not be who they say who they are. Never share personal details or photos with anyone you don’t know and if anyone asks you for these things make sure to let your parent, guardian or another trusted adult know.

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying refers to cruel or bullying messages sent online. These might be from former friends, people you go to school with or other people you know. Sometimes it’s hard to know where it’s coming from or who’s doing it because of screen names, but if someone is sending you mean messages online, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

If I think I’m experiencing cyberbullying, what can I do?

It’s often recommended that you ignore bullying messages instead of responding to them, but we know that’s tough. Instead, you could try to delete or block bullies, so you don’t see their messages or texts. Ignoring cyberbullying isn’t your only option, and you definitely don’t have to face it alone. It’s a good idea to get help from a parent, school counselor or another trusted adult. That’s especially true if the cyberbullying contains threats. Serious threats may need to be investigated by your school or even the local authorities.

The internet is a great place for young people to do research for school, share photos with friends, play video games or check out the latest trending videos. It’s important to remember that billions of people access the internet, so there are lots of opportunities to connect—but not everyone has the best intentions for doing so.

Bullying someone online—through email, social media, text messaging or any other website or app—is called cyberbullying, and it is a form of bullying that is sadly becoming more common among young people. It can be led by one person, or a whole group of people who send cruel texts or posts about a person on social media.

It’s important to teach young people to think critically before sharing personal information, pictures or videos online. Nothing on the internet is completely private, but young people can avoid unwanted contact and unwanted content by using online safety tools, understanding privacy and location settings and keeping strong passwords.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

It’s best to start conversations about online safety early. Instead of trying to figure out what your child is doing on social media and with other technology, coach your child through each platform and strategies to explore safely. With your help, your child can grow as a person by exploring the world of technology and the internet while you provide a safety net of trust to fall back on.

Here are some ways to start these conversations:

Sit down with your child to look at funny videos or pictures

Sit down with your child to look at funny videos or pictures, creating the space for your child to be comfortable with you and your online presence.

Talk with your family at dinner about social media

Social media is so pervasive that it can be a completely natural, comfortable topic of conversation with your child. You can say something like, “Did you see how the election was all over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram today?”

Lastly, just like we instill in our children a sense of self-worth, confidence and self-empowerment in their everyday lives, it is just as important to have conversations about how to carry those values into their online behavior. For example, you can say, “Today is your cousin’s birthday. Why not post a picture of the two of you from our last family party?”