Cyberspace is a gigantic community of millions, where people research
information for school, learn about movies, shop, listen to music,
watch video clips, even develop sites of their own. As in any community,
there are people and places you should avoid to reduce your crime
Rules of the Road on the Internet
The best tool you have for screening material found on the Internet
is your brain. If you come across sites that are pornographic, full
of hate literature, or excessively violent, move on. Here are a
few reminders for safe browsing on the World Wide Web:
- Never give out your name, address, telephone number, password,
school name, parent's name, pictures of yourself, credit
cards, or any other personal information to others online.
- Never agree to meet face to face with someone you've
met online without discussing it with your parents. Only if your
parents decide that it's okay to meet your "cyber-friend,"
arrange to meet in a familiar public place, and take an adult
- Never respond to messages from unfamiliar persons.
- Never enter an area that charges for services without getting
your parents' permission first.
- If you receive pornographic material or threatening e-mail,
save the offensive material, tell your parents, and contact that
user's Internet service provider and your local law enforcement
The Sites You See (and Visit)
E-mail is a great way to communicate with your friends and
family. Sometimes you may receive messages trying to sell you something
or encouraging you to visit a Web site. It is probably best not
to respond to e-mail from people or groups you don't know.
These sites might be a scam to sell you something you don't
want. Remember, the sender might not be who he or she seems to be.
If you respond, you are confirming that you have a valid e-mail
address. That information can encourage the sender to forward inappropriate
e-mail or put your address on even more lists.
When someone is posting a message in a chat room, other users
have no way of knowing who that person really is. Though the anonymity
of a chat room can be liberating — it's cool to create
a different identity — some use it as a way to meet people they
want to harm. Never say anything in a chat room that you wouldn't
say in public. Many chat rooms have monitors or speakers who maintain
order. These monitors can kick people out of the room for inappropriate
If you meet someone online and strike up a good relationship with
them, they may want to go to a private chat room. Most of these
rooms are unmonitored. There will be no filter for inappropriate
Not everyone online minds their manners. When you are in chat
rooms or bulletin boards there is a chance that you'll get
messages that are harassing, demeaning, or just plain mean. Just
ignore them. Some messages, however, may constitute harassment,
which is a crime under federal law. If someone sends you messages
or images that are obscene, lewd, filthy, or indecent, with the
intent to harass or threaten you, report it to your Internet service
provider. One trick to avoid harassment is to choose a gender-neutral
name to use in a chat room and other public places on the Internet.
Assessing a Web Site
Aside from the fun ways to keep in touch with people, the Web can
be a powerful research tool. But you need to be able to evaluate
the pages you visit to know whether the information is accurate.
As you visit new sites keep these pointers in mind:
- Look for Web pages that have a proper title, additional resources,
a contact person with his or her e-mail address, an announcement
of the last time the page was updated, and current links.
- Know who are the authors or sponsors of the site. What gives
them the authority to discuss the issue at hand?
- Know the code. Check the URL (Web site address) to see what
the domain name includes: a .com (commercial), a .gov (government),
an .org (organization), .net (network), an .edu (educational organization),
or a two letter country code (country of origin). This will provide
an idea of the author or sponsor of the site. Not all commercial
sites want to sell you something and not all educational sites
will educate you. Be an educated consumer as you sort through
- Know what's happening. Is the main purpose of this site
to sell, inform, or persuade you?
- Check with the author first, if you find information that you
want to use for your research, about copyright privileges and
- Educate your parents. Take the time to show your parents what
you do online. Show them your Web site, if you have one. Tell
them who you are communicating with on a daily basis. Most likely
you will be teaching your parents some new tricks.
- Talk to your parents about where you can go online and how
long you can stay online. Also, tell them about activities you
participate in online.
- Teach other teens about keeping safe on the Internet.
- Know your rights — where to report crimes and what you
Return to Crime Prevention Tips
Crime Prevention Tips Provided by:
National Crime Prevention Council