Your parents, coaches, teachers and others in your life worry about how safe you are on the Internet. We know you don't worry about it like they do, but you need to be ready with the right information when your teacher gives you an assignment on the safety topic or your parents bring it up.
The best thing to do when adults start off on the dangers of the Internet is not to act like you know everything and they know nothing. Instead of shrugging off their fears, talk to them to assure them that you are trying to be as safe as possible.
Make your life easier. Follow these steps:
- Listen. Don't interrupt. Let the adults explain their worries. Let them tell you about what they've read in the news or seen in the media. Don't act like the problems they bring up can never happen to you, for although it isn't likely, you've got to admit that it's possible.
- Think before you react: Teachers sometimes have a discussion of the topic before making an assignment. As you take part in the discussion, be sure to respect your teachers' opinions and do your best to understand why teachers worry, which put simply, is that they care about your safety and it is their job to keep you safe. They'd be in big trouble if they let you free to interact online with people you don't know or go to porn sites when you are supposed to be doing schoolwork. When doing your assignment on Internet safety, be sure to consider safety from their viewpoint as well as yours.
- Appreciate that your parents are concerned about you: They are legally responsible for your safety, and whether you like it or not, they worry when you are online. Keep your parents aware of what you are doing online. By the time kids get to be your age, they don't share lots of things with adults, but instead talk to their friends. If you don't let your parents know how you are tackling online use, they'll continue to badger you with all those horror stories.
Here are some MUSTS to include in school reports or in discussions about online use:
- Admit that there have been problems for both kids and adults online. Cite some stories that have been in the news. Source information is available on sites like Power to Learn's Internet Smarts Blog, iKeepSafe, newspaper sites, and Common Sense Media resources.
- Explain how to best avoid problems by giving examples of advice you've learned in school, from your friends, or found online. You'll be able to locate lots of advice on the sites listed above.
- Try to put yourself into your parents' or teachers' minds and make a list of what their worries are. To be sure, they'll be concerned about who you are interacting with online, what you are posting online, and how much time you are spending online. This means tackling issues like what is personal information, what might hurt your reputation, what might be dangerous to you, and what is a healthy amount of time to spend online.
Addressing the issues of online use with your parents and teachers will make them feel better about your security and will also help them better understand how students today interact. Think about it. Didn't their parents (your grandparents) worry about the time they spent on the telephone, why they were so secretive about some phone calls, and who they were chatting with? They also worried about what your parents as kids watched on TV and how many hours they spent. Every generation has their issues. Be smart about yours.