Over the past few decades, internet has made is super easy for us to stay in touch. We are always connected to our social network via our smartphones, I-pads, laptops or PCs. In fact it has taken over most of our daily routine. It has great potential to be an “all in one” resource. Be it news, politics, current affairs, weather forecast, social networking, sports or entertainment. But everything has its downsides. If you avail this amazing technology, you are at a potential risk of being its victim too. It could be fraud, hacking, stalking, criticism or bullying. Internet gives none the ability to take a cover. In the proverbial sense, not everything that glitters is gold.

You learn about driving rules to avoid any trouble. Likewise, it is almost a necessity for you to learn about online safety measures. These are very important and will help you through a lifetime.

Online Do’s and Don’ts

In order to avoid any possible trouble on the internet, here are some tools and tips:

·         NEVER give out personal information i-e phone number, address.

·         NEVER share your pictures with anyone, particularly unethical ones.

·         Avoid opening emails from people you don’t know.

·         Don’t become “friends” with people you don’t know or haven’t known well.

·         NEVER arrange a meet with someone you met online.

·         If you find anything that alarms or warns you, talk to someone about it.

Social Networks

Social networks and their apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Ask.fm and SnapChat have become very popular over the past years.

Most of the users on these websites are genuine. But anonymity comes along with it. And anyone can hide their true identities. It’s a possibility that you may encounter someone that you would in actual avoid knowing.

Risks Involved
Privacy

Internet provides a tremendous amount of freedom and access. Which in turn can lead to people behaving in ways that they wouldn’t in public. Here’s a couple of examples.

·         Saying things on a status or a tweet that they won’t in person

·         Post personal information about themselves or others that would normally be kept private

An Example

Your birthday is on your social network. You “create” an event and let your friends know about the time and location. This means more than half of your “friend’s friends” know about it and they show up their uninvited. This could lead to chaos and confusion based on people’s behavior. They might get angry or even simply refuse to leave. This is where the police needs to intervene. Some birthday party it was.

Bullying

Cyber bullying is no different from real time bullying. The victim is someone scared and lonely, while the bully hides and bullies the victim without being caught.

·         Statuses, comments, photos/videos about someone can be posted online, making them scared or upset.

·         Victim’s account could be hacked and he could be harassed using their personal information or by impersonating them.

·         Cyber bullies feel secure because they are metaphorically invisible. But this could actually aid in tracking and confronting them since it’s like evidence.

·         Because people somehow believe that they are anonymous online, they might be attracted to bullying someone although they normally wouldn’t.

Stalking

Online stalking can be just as upsetting as its other forms.

·         Mostly the victims are usually women and girls.

·         The stalker might be their ex-boyfriend/ex-girlfriend who wants revenge.

·         It could just be an online friendship that didn’t turn up well.

·         Or it could be total random, one stranger to another stranger.

Sexting

Sexting usually involves an exchange of obscene content. Content could be:

·         Indecent pictures

·         Vulgar shots

·         Foul texts/images/videos

These may be exchanged between two persons who are dating, a friend, or just someone you met online. It normally takes place because

·         Friends boasting to each other about sending/receiving pictures

·         Trying to fit in with your friends

·         Fear of being called “boring” or “frightened”

·         Having to appear “bold”

·         Being bullied or harassed to send pictures/videos

·         Giving in is easier than arguing

·         Feeling guilty about saying no or turning people down

·         You “owe” your relationship and have to play your part

·         You trust your boyfriend/girlfriend because you love them

·         You want to show-off about your physique

·         An online or long distance relationship

But always remember,

·         There’s no way out once you hit “send”.

·         Even apps that don’t let you save content, there’s always screenshot.

·         The risk of looking like someone you are not.

Impersonation

The more you reveal about yourself online, the more risk there is of being impersonated by someone else. Impersonation refers to the instance where one person pretend or appear to be another person and it is usually not in a good way. Your personal information is usually

·         Email ID

·         Contact Number

·         Mailing Address

·         Bank Stats

·         Pictures of yourself

The consequences of identity theft can be severe. Therefore always be aware of potential risks. If your or your parent’s identity is stolen, the stealer may:

·         Steal money

·         Commit a crime impersonating you

·         Damage your reputation

·         Cause troubling situations

Unethical/obscene Content

Keep a track of the sites you browse. Many sites, featuring pornographic content, drug abuse and violence and other illegal activities are plenty on the Internet nowadays.

·         These sites are easily accessible, even with parental monitoring

·         You could be intrigued into exploring them via social networking

Online Counselling

Internet is a highly interactive source for people to stay in touch with each other. This is usually via chat applications, social networking websites or mobile phones.

Pedophiles are known for using this as a strategy to lure young people into contacting and befriending by disguising themselves as anonymity is yet another property of the Internet. Such “friendships” often lead to grave consequences which may involve inappropriate images and even a personal meeting which in turn can result in a disaster.

Online grooming is used to refer to such behavior towards younger people and putting them at a potential risk of being exposed in an offensive context.

Even if nothing happens, the mere possibility of having known someone with these guts can be quite upsetting.

Online Friendships

It is never good to spend long hours sitting in front of a PC or a laptop. But this can result from pressure of being popular on the social network and having lots of friends online. But here are a few tips to keep in mind:

·         Online friendships are based on a “button” rather than discovering and talking to people.

·         There’s not really a point in being online friends with anyone.

·         Fall outs can easier because of misunderstandings.

·         It is far better and less chaotic to talk and resolve issues in person.

No matter how much someone shows off about being popular and having tons of friends on their social network, real friendships don’t need computers or the Internet.

In order to avoid any trouble, you should:

·         Ensure that you are above 18 years of age.

·         Use an alias or a pet name.

·         Never trade personal information.

·         Don’t befriend people you don’t know in person.

·         Use an email address that doesn’t comprise of your name.

·         Use a strong password and avoid using passwords that may be easily guessed by someone else and change your password regularly.

·         Use the most restricted privacy settings on your social network. Share your stats with only the closest of your friends.

·         Be aware when posting any pictures or videos as they spread like fire in the jungle across the Internet even if your share them with your friends only.

·         Never share something you don’t own or don’t have information about. It could be held against you.

·         Never arrange a meet with someone you haven’t met in person before.

·         Keep a track of security features of the website and incorporate them in your use.

·         If something you see or a part of happens online that alarms you, talk to someone immediately.

Other types of Internet Abuses

·         Spam – Unsolicited messages usually advertisements.

·         Phishing – Acquiring sensitive information including passwords, usernames, and bank details.

·         Bugs/Malware/Viruses – Contaminating a system via an integrated virus.

If you own an email account, you might receive an email from someone you don’t know.  The email could be:

·         Spam – Selling something.

·         Malware – Bugs.

·         An integrated virus in an attachment.

·         Abusive or inappropriate content.

The best thing to do in case you receive such an email is deleting it.

·         Spam can rip you off.

·         Virus will damage the system.

·         Attachment could be a virus or something you would otherwise avoid seeing.

·         It might be something explicit or inappropriate leading to depression.

You can get rid of these emails by enabling the security features of your account. If you aren’t old enough, talk to an adult about it. If someone asks help of your, do the best you know.

There are also websites available that can help one learn about ethics of using the Internet and how to use it safely without getting into any trouble.