There are real risks when you provide your personal information online. As a rule, you should not reveal personal information about yourself on the Internet. This includes your name, email address, street address, phone number, photo, school address, etc. Keep in mind that on many social networking websites – like Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter – once you post information or an image, it belongs to them. Even if you delete it, the information or image may not be deleted on their server (where Web files are stored) and it may already be duplicated in another location.
Once something is published online, it is almost impossible to remove it. “Think Before You Post” is the message of this video from the Ad Council.
Before you post something online, stop and ask yourself: Would I be embarrassed if my mom or dad saw this? Remember, if it’s online, it’s never offline again. If you aren’t sure if something is okay to post online, talk to your parents first.
Here are some safety tips:
- Only respond to emails or instant messages from people you know (or from addresses you know).
- If you receive an email or instant message that makes you uncomfortable or you think is weird, do not respond. Show your parents or a teacher.
- If someone you meet online wants to meet you in the real world, it could put you in real danger. How do you know who they really are? Tell your parents first.
- If a website asks you to type in your name, address, email, etc., ask your parents first — even if it's to enter a game or contest.
- Use privacy settings to restrict who can access and post on your Facebook or other social networking site.
- Protect your passwords.
Privacy doesn’t just apply to your own online activity. It applies to your friends and others you know. Respect other people’s digital property and space: don’t steal, hack, break into anyone else’s accounts, or use other’s content or personal information without permission. If you post a picture of someone else, you should be sure that you have permission first.
This video, called Facebook, YouTube, Texting: Rules of the Road for Kids, will help you make smart online decisions.
Protect your reputation
You may not realize it, but every time you go online, you leave a trail. It’s called a digital footprint. In a world where everyone is connected and anything can be shared by millions, it is important to think about the digital footprint you leave behind.
What you do on the Internet is not private. People can capture your online information and use it for their own purposes. To learn more about it, visit the Youth Privacy website of the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. The site also contains information on how to protect your information so it can't be used without you knowing about it.
Sexting — sending sexually suggestive images and videos via cellphone — is popular among some young people. Most kids who send nude or nearly nude images of themselves intend them for a single person — usually a romantic partner or someone they like. But what happens when one friend passes a picture to another and then another. The images can sometimes get into the wrong hands. It can happen by accident, for instance a typo, or because the person who received the message sent the pictures on to others. Whatever the reason, inappropriate digital images of yourself can come back to haunt you. Before you send them, think about how you would feel if the images got out.