Twelve tips for safe social networking

The cardinal rule of social networking on the web bears repeating: Once you post personal information online, you can never take it back.

With that in mind, here are twelve practical tips from and

1. Choose your screen name carefully, so you don’t give the wrong impression or invite unwanted attention.

2. Protect your personal information — never reveal your full name, street address, phone number, physical description, or any financial information.

3. Conversely, limit the amount of information about family and friends you put out there.

4. Be sure you understand sites’ privacy policies and how they store and secure your information.

5. Use privacy settings to limit who can view your profile.

6. You never know the full audience for your postings — your language, pictures, or videos could resurface in the future, so don’t post anything you might later regret.

7. Don’t take anything or anyone at face value — if it (he/she) seems too good to be true, it (he/she) probably is.

8. If you avoid risque conversations online, you’ll be much less likely to come in contact with a predator.

9. Don’t engage in cyber bullying or the online rumor mill — things can spin out of control and your audience can just as easily turn on you.

10. Immediately report abusive, suspicious, or inappropriate online behavior (most sites include links for this purpose).

11. Never go alone to meetings with online acquaintances — meet in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring friends along.

12. Many of these tips also apply to cell phones — don’t give out your number to just anyone, and be careful with technologies that can pinpoint your location.

For more tips, see:

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