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Teen Guide to MySpace and Online Safety

Having fun while keeping safe

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MySpace is a lot of fun. You can catch up with friends, meet new people and share your favorite things with the world. You might even like it because your parents have no clue what you’re doing. So, cool, have fun, but remember that there are some dangerous things about MySpace and some scary people hang out there, too. The good news is that you can protect yourself. You’ve probably heard them before, but here are some simple tips for having fun and staying safe online.

Restrict viewing of your profile only to people you know in real life.

Setting your profile to “private” allows only trusted friends to view your information. You still have to be careful what you post, but it's less likely that someone creepy will view your personal profile.

Only visit profiles of people you know.

Stick with the profiles of people you know and trust. It makes it less likely you’ll run into someone who’ll try to hurt you, but it also helps protect you from downloading viruses and malware to your computer.

Never post suggestive pictures or information on your profile.

If you wouldn’t show it to your parents or grandparents, it’s not ok to put it online. You may think it’s just for fun, but other people might get the wrong idea. Also, people can download those pictures, so they might haunt you for a long time to come.

Never post false information about other people.

No matter how funny it may seem, don’t do it. Things you say about other people can hurt them now and in the future. Besides which, it’s just as easy for someone to do it to you!

Never post anything on your profile that you wouldn’t say in public.

Your profile isn’t private. Colleges are looking to see what you’re doing online and so are businesses. As strange as it may sound, you could end up getting rejected from your top school because of things you post. If that doesn’t convince you, things posted on profiles have been known to break up relationships.

Not everything you read is true.

Have you ever pretended to be someone else online? Have you ever said something that wasn’t true? It happens all of the time. Don’t believe everything you read. People pretend to be older or younger and sometimes guys pretend to be girls and girls pretend to be guys. You just can’t believe everything you read, even if you want to.

Never share personal information such as phone numbers, addresses, etc. online.

It’s dangerous, plain and simple.

Talk to your parents before meeting anyone in person.

If you’d like to meet someone in person, talk to your parents about it. Yeah, I know… so not cool. But it’s incredibly dangerous otherwise. Ask your parents about meeting the person in a public place, like the mall food court, where your parents can be nearby to make sure you’re safe. That way, you protect yourself, but can still have some fun.

If you’re not sure, talk to an adult.

If you see something online that makes you scared, sad, or worried, tell someone. Find an adult that you trust and talk to them. It might be your parents, an aunt or uncle, a coach or a teacher. Whoever you think can help you out and make you feel safe. You should also do this if one of your friends has seen something or looks like they might be in trouble.

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