Internet Safety For Teens
"We met in a chat room," remembers 14-year-old Hannah describing her relationship with a guy she was writing to for weeks online. "He was so friendly and flattering and funny. I knew he was a little older than the boys I usually talk to but that made it even better. He asked me questions about myself and seemed really interested in how my life was going. Then we started speaking on my cell phone. Two days later, out of the blue, he asked me my bra size. I couldn't believe it. My stomach tightened up and my hands turned ice cold. How could I have been so stupid? I never told my mom because I knew she'd say, 'I told you so'." "My dad keeps warning me about Internet safety for teens. He keeps showing me all the newspaper articles about what can happen if you're not careful online," relates 13-year-old Stacey. "Last week, he read one out loud about a girl who met this guy in a Christian chat room. He was 37, but he told her he was 18. She told him her address and one night when she was asleep, he came into her house wearing a ski mask and carrying a gun. He took her to a remote storage space, sexually assaulted her, and shot her in the head. My dad says finding girls to harm is like shooting fish in a barrel for these guys.... In fact, policemen who pretend they're teenagers never have to wait more than a few minutes before someone hits on them. Usually the guys seem like average citizens...real estate agents, youth ministers, engineers, students, security guards...no one knows about their secret life. It's really scary." "I'm probably contacted by strangers via IMs at least once a week," admits 15-year-old Cara, who knows that Internet safety for teens is important. The first thing people ask is where you live and how old you are. I never used to think twice about it, but now I either ignore the question or give a fake answer. I can still talk to them, but I don't have to worry in case they are not who they say they are." Chat sites, social networking sites, blogs...they're all pretty cool places to hang in cyberspace. Who wouldn't be tempted to spend time in a new hot site where you can share opinions and music files and communicate with interesting new friends? The problem is that as wonderful as the Internet is, it's just a reflection of society, the good and the bad. While you might recognize religious cults or hate speeches, you might not understand dangers of clever electronic strangers. Here are some internet safety for teens facts: Close to 60% of teens online say they have received an IM or email from a stranger, and 50% of them say they have exchanged emails or instant messages with someone they never met. Of the 45 million kids under 18 online, one in five has received an online sexual offer. Two-thirds of these offers were aimed at teenage girls.
It's just common sense. When you let your fingers do your talking, use the filter between your ears and remember Internet safety for teens. NEVER give personal information to anyone you have not met in person. NEVER agree to meet someone you have only met online. Choose your screen name carefully..."SexMagnet" is a no-no...something like "Panda" is better. And keep in mind, you would never talk to a stranger on the street; be just as careful of who you're letting onto the screen in your bedroom!
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