Are you a member of MySpace? How about Facebook? LiveJournal? Xianz? Most teens today are a member of some social networking site. While they may seem like a lot of fun, they also pose a risk to your safety. This does not mean that you can't join any of these online social networking sites. It just means that you need to be careful about how you use them. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe when you use the Internet:
1. Be TruthfulWhen a site asks you how old you are, you need to be honest. There are reasons that these sites ask for your age. They want to make sure you are appropriate for the site. If you have questions, you need to talk to your parents. You should also let your parents know that you are joining a site like MySpace, Live Journal, or Xianz. They can offer you help and advice about being safe.
2. Be PrivateOne of the things that amazed parents and professionals the most was the amount of information a person could get from a simple profile. You want to reveal some things about yourself, that's understandable, but you do not want to post information that will allow someone to find your location. This means avoiding posts that tell people where you hang out, your schedule, last name, and more.
3. Do You Use Pictures?When the profiles of students were studied, there were some visual cues that could be used by a predator to find you. For instance, do you have pictures on your site where you are wearing school logos? How about friends messaging you using your last name? Got something on there about your youth group and what time you meet? Those are all easy ways for you to be found by a stranger.
4. Stay PrivateOne way to make yourself a little more private is to only use sites that allow you to "lock out" anyone that does not have your permission to view your site. MySpace and Xianz both have that capability. People need to request permission to view your profile. If you do not know that person, do not allow him or her to have access. Even if they say they are a "friend of a friend," you should really know the person you are talking to online.
5. Don't Meet in PersonChristians are supposed to witness to people. This means inviting them to go to church and discussing your faith with people you may have just met. Yet the anonymity of meeting people online is a little more dangerous. You need to be very, very careful. If you do feel like inviting that person to church, you should discuss it with your parents and only go with friends.
6. Get Rid of Bad CommentsAs a Christian you need to live up to a different standard, but it doesn't mean you live in a vacuum. You probably have non-Christian friends that are not as appropriate about their posts in your comments section. Even though they are non-Christian, it does not look good for you to have those comments on your profile. Also, if you see something too revealing in your comments section, you should delete it right away.