Safe SurfingCyberspace is a massive 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 risk. In Ponce Inlet the fastest rising crimes to be reported are computer related crimes.
Rules of the Road on the InternetThe 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 Internet:
- 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.
- Children should never meet face to face with someone they've met online without discussing it with their parents. Parents should decide that it's okay to meet a "cyber-friend,." Arrangements should be made to meet in a familiar public place, and always take an adult.
- Never respond to messages from unfamiliar persons.
- Never enter an area that charges for services without knowing exactly what they are offering and if they are reputable
- If you receive pornographic material or threatening email, save the offensive material, tell your parents, and contact that user's Internet service provider and your local law enforcement agency.
Chat RoomsWhen 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 behavior.
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 conduct.
Parents need to know what chat rooms their children are going to. Remember many predators are looking for child victims and this is the first stage of luring their victims into extremely dangerous situations.
HarassmentNot 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 SiteAside 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 email 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 (website 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 the information.
- 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 permission.