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Internet Safety

This is an excerpt from Live Well Middle School Health With Web Resource by Karen E. McConnell,Terri D. Farrar & Charles B. Corbin.

The Internet seems to have something for everyone. You can search for information, get help with schoolwork, listen to music, stream shows and movies, play games, email, talk with friends, talk to people who are new to you, listen to podcasts, go to school online, video conference, and interact on different types of social media. These options also entail some risks that you need to be aware of, such as social media sharing, identity theft, and phishing attacks.

Social Media Sharing

Social media is described as electronic communication in which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content. Social media sharing means you are sharing your current location when you take photographs or are checking in to a specific building or event. It is easy for social media criminals to see where you are, even including very detailed addresses at times. This address feature means that strangers can learn where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing. This in turn means that strangers can contact you, find you, and stalk you because you’ve led them directly to your location. It can also let strangers know when you’re not at home, which could lead to break-ins.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when someone uses your identity or personal information without your permission to commit a crime. You might think this isn’t something you need to worry about, but you really should. Your identity as a teen can be stolen just like that of an adult. The difference is that you won’t know about it until you are 17 or 18 and applying for student loans or a credit card and are denied because you have maxed-out credit cards or unpaid bills. Make sure your computer and cell phone are protected with a password, fingerprint scan, or facial recognition. Use only websites and apps you know are trustworthy and make sure you always have the most recent versions of apps and operating system software, which include the latest security updates.

Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks are dishonest websites, apps, or emails that look legitimate but are not. Phishing schemes in the form of an email might ask you to sign into your gaming account because there’s a problem that needs to be fixed right away. You click on the link in the email, which takes you to a website that looks just like your game, but when you log in all of your personal information, including your username and password, has just been given to the attacker. The attacker now has access to your account, and if there is a credit card attached to the account, they now have access to the credit card as well.

Importance of Passwords

Begin your protection by having a strong password (figure 13.6). Many of the hacks to your social media, email, and other online sites result from weak or stolen passwords. Your password should be complex and have multiple types of characters including numbers, letters, and symbols. Having a different password for each website or app also helps to defend against hacking.

Figure 13.6 Tips for creating a strong password.
Figure 13.6 Tips for creating a strong password.