Tips for Students
Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat, have exploded in popularity in recent years. While a valuable resource for connecting with friends and acquaintances, social networking sites are also prime targets for criminals.Students can stay safe on the internet with the following tips:
- Do not give out personal information such as addresses, telephone numbers, parents’ work addresses or telephone numbers or the name and location of school. When it is necessary to provide that information on legitimate websites, get permission from parents.
- When coming across any information – whether it be online or by text message -- that makes one feel uncomfortable, parents, teachers or other responsible adults should be made aware of it immediately.
- Students should never agree to get together with someone they "met" online. This type of meeting carries risk. Students should notify parents, teachers or other responsible adults if someone from online requests a face-to-face meeting.
- Never send anyone photos or files without checking with an adult. Do not respond to any messages that are hostile, belligerent or inappropriate. Report these types of messages to parents or a trusted adult.
- Set privacy settings to the most secure setting available. Most social networking sites offer ways to restrict access to make sure information is being shared only with friends.
- Don't post any information that would let someone know about a vacation or whether the house is empty. Posting about being out of town for a few days could make someone a likely target for thieves. Children should never mention whether they are home alone.
- Make a unique password for every social media site. Consider making the passwords stronger by adding numbers or special characters. Having strong, unique passwords for each site helps prevent hackers from taking over social media accounts to send spam to other users, scam friends or use information against the owner of the account.
- Don't post anything online that would cause problems if made public. Follow the “front page rule,” which reminds social media users not to put anything on a social media site they would not want to see on the front page of a local newspaper.
- Remember that employers, school and university administrators and others often check Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites for information posted online.
- Don't click on links that may appear to be unusual or suspicious, even if they look like they are sent by friends. Much like links sent through spam email, these could lead to schemes to solicit personal information or could launch malicious software or viruses that could damage a computer.
- Be selective about who is accepted as a “friend” or “follower” on a social media account. Identity thieves can easily create fake profiles in order to obtain personal information that might otherwise have been private.
- Don't post any information that can lead hackers to passwords for online banking or other accounts. For example, common questions for those who have forgotten their passwords for financial or other sites include “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What’s your favorite pet?” Criminals may be able to find those answers easily on social networking sites.
- Assume that status updates, photos and videos posted on social networks are permanent. Just because a profile is deleted or information is removed, anyone on a computer has the ability to print text or photos or save items to a computer.