These tips, based on current research, will help teenagers’ socialising stay fun and safe on the Web.
Be your own person. Don't let anyone pressure you to be someone you aren't. And know your limits. You may be Net-savvy, but people and relationships change, and unexpected things can happen on the Internet.
Be nice online. Treat people the way you’d want to be treated. People who are nasty and aggressive online are at greater risk of being bullied or harassed themselves. If someone's mean to you, try not to react, don't retaliate and talk to a trusted adult or a friend who can help. Use privacy tools to block rude people.
Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later. People you consider friends now can use this info against you if they become ex-friends. And even with privacy features, people on your Friends list can copy and paste your content elsewhere.
Passwords are private. Don’t share your password, even with friends. Friendships change and you don't want to be impersonated by anyone. Pick a password you can remember, but no one else can guess. One trick: Create a sentence like ‘I left King School in 05’ for the password ‘IlftKSi05’.
Read between the lines. It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that while some people are nice, others act nice because they're trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may actually be manipulation.
Don't talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don't know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don't lead them on – you don’t want to be the target of a predator. If they persist, call your local police.
Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you're both in the same location, so – to be 100% safe – don't meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you 'met' online, don't go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or other trusted adult and bring some friends along.
Be careful when using a mobile phone. All the same tips apply to phones as they do to computers. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technology that can reveal your physical location. And consider protecting your phone with a password.