Chatting and conversing with people over the internet can be a beneficial and culturally enriching experience for teens of all ages, but only if done properly. You are responsible for the majority of your safety, and on this website you can find a few basic tips for staying safe on the internet. This page, however, is going to focus on what sort of information should never be given out on the internet (unless you’re purchasing an item from a trustworthy retailer such as Amazon.com in which case it may be required to ship it to you).
First and foremost: Never give out any personal information without the consent of your parent or guardian, no matter what.
You would be surprised how easy it is to find information about someone’s entire life, with a simple Google search, using only the most basic pieces of information. The less a person knows, the harder it may be for them to find you (which is a good thing!)
We’ll now go into a little bit of detail about which one, incase you have some questions.
- Name (Full)
- Phone Number
- School you attend
- Bank information
- Credit Card information
- Social security number
- City you live in
- Your Email Address
Name: Your full name (in combination with what city you live in) is almost the worst thing to give someone. They can easily look up your address or phone number in a phone book, and get any other information they may need to track you down, or possibly stalk you.
Address: Should someone ask to write you a letter (or be pen pals) this is a very tricky situation. You should insist that it be done via email (on a non-primary email address). The only time it is really safe to have a pen pal, is when you know the person (or knew them) in the real world, or it is arranged through your school. You have no idea who you are really writing to, and remember, never let people use this tactic to find out more information about you, such as which school you go to, or your friends.
Phone Number: Put simply, the last thing you need, want, or should have is strangers off of the internet calling you, this is very dangerous activity.
School You Attend: Schools now days are good at not releasing information unless a parent has authorize the release of that information, or a parent has told the office staff that person X is going to be picking them up from school. However if this is not the case, using only your first name, it may be easy to locate you at school.
Bank Information: No one will need your bank information, except you, and if you’re at a bank teller, or ATM machine. Not even the people in those Nigerian scam emails. Don’t give out numbers, or bank names!
Credit Card Number: If you’re going to be purchasing items online, it is best to use a Visa gift card (spendable anywhere) these cards are not attached to your bank account, and therefore if someone does manage to get them (or you give someone the number by mistake) they can’t go on a spending spree with money that doesn’t exist.
Social Security Number: No one online should ever be asking for this, the only people that do are banks, government, and employers. If someone online is asking you this information – don’t give it to them. Insist that this information be given in person, not over the internet or phone (so that you may verify that the person who needs this information is who they say they are).
City You Live In: With your first name, or your first name and a combination of any of the data above, it may be very easy to locate your residence, or more information about you.
Email Address: If you’re going to be talking to people you meet online over email or instant messenger, create a new email address using a fake name. Often times when you send email it will say “From: Your Name” and this is all the information the person will need to track you down further. Alternate email addresses (or throw away addresses) are a great idea. No one will be able to pester you, and you can block someone at any time, and they won’t be able to have their friends harass you.
Your personal information is just that, your personal information. You need to be responsible with it, and never give it out online. Protecting your identity is more important than ever in today’s society, and no one can help you do so, more than yourself.
Be safe online!