Using the Internet has become one of the most common parts of our daily routine. People use it to check e-mail, instant message their friends, watch funny videos, research the latest techno gadgets, and see what they would like for dinner tonight. Because the Internet is such an integral part of our lives, it is important to be able to use it effectively and safely. Here are some pointers to keep in mind for performing safe online searches.
Be very careful what you tell people online.
Using the Internet is a great place for you to find information quickly so you can use it sooner. Most people who are using the Internet are looking for information to help them find something, do something they aren’t sure how to do, or learn about a topic that is important to them. But there are a handful of people who go online to find out information about you that you probably don’t want them to have. Don’t give out any information such as your complete name, address, school info, or any financial information or government identification numbers. They can find out a lot about you from just a little information carelessly put on the Internet. But this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use the Internet, you just need to be careful with personal information. Don’t tell anything to someone you don’t know or trust.
People may not be who they seem or claim to be
As a reminder, there are the occasional people who are online for less than good reasons and want to get your personal information or want access to your computer. These people often pretend to be someone they are not while they are online. They may claim to be a fourteen-year old girl and actually be a fifty-five year old man trying to get information. People may also claim to have qualifications (medical certificates, degrees, expertise) that they simply don’t have in order to sell their products. Do some research and get your information from more than one reputable source when possible.
Don’t download files from a site you don’t know and trust
Some sites may have files you can download that will make it “work better” or do something important for the site to function better or make your own computer run more smoothly. It’s important to make sure you are only downloading things from sites you trust.
Set reasonable expectations about what you find online
Don’t expect to find the answers spelled out exactly for you on the Internet. There is such a vast amount of information out there that it is virtually impossible to monitor it all. No one censors or polices the Internet and there is also a huge amount of content that just isn’t true. Anyone, whether they are a company, an organization, an individual person, or other group, can post websites and the information on them. It’s up to you to make sure that you are only looking at information you want to online. No one else is going to monitor it for you.
Beware of attempts to intimidate or get personal information from you
Don’t ever respond to messages that are suggestive, belligerent, obscene, threatening, or that make you feel uncomfortable in any way. Acting hostile in return to attacks will only put you in a worse situation than you may have already been in.
The best way to be safe while searching online is to be prepared. Know what you are looking for and find out what the best possible resources for the information could be. Trust yourself, and if something seems fishy, there is probably a reason for it. Take an active role in making searching the web a great experience for you.