Computers allow access to a vast amount of knowledge. By logging onto the Internet, you can contact sources of information around the world and download material about any subject. You might already be using the Internet for schoolwork, hobbies, or simply for enjoyment. You can also develop online friendships with Scouts anywhere on the globe.
For all of its benefits, though, the Internet can also present hazards you should know about and avoid. Most people using the Internet are friendly and honest. However, there are some who use the Internet to take advantage of others. There are also Web sites with content that is unsuitable for young people. Use the following guidelines to protect your privacy and gain the most good from your time online:
- Whenever you go online...
- (1) Don't respond to inappropriate messages or Web sites. If you stumble across information or images that you don't understand, it's OK to talk about it with your parent or guardian;
- (2) Don't share information such as your address, telephone number, school name, or your parents' work address or telephone number, and never send any photos via the Internet unless you have permission; and
- (3) Never agree to meet anyone who has contacted you online, unless your parent or guardian goes with you.
Another hazard of the Internet is called the cyber-bully. A cyber-bully uses electronic communications such as the Internet to harass, threaten, and harm others. Some tactics that cyber-bullies use include dissing (spreading damaging gossip about a person), harassment (repeatedly sending hateful messages), and impersonation (pretending to be someone else and posting damaging information to harm another's reputation).
If you feel you are the victim of a cyber-bully, do not retaliate. Ask the cyber-bully to stop. Do not make your message aggressive or emotional. Let the bully know that you will take other steps if the abuse does not stop. If that does not help, tell your parent or guardian right away. Cyber-bullies can't be seen when they are online; this gives them a false sense of security. What they don't know is that they can be found out, caught, and even punished.
The best way to protect yourself is to be a good online citizen. Don't post information that could be used against you or other people. Stay away from sites that tolerate and encourage bullying. Be kind online.
Source: 2008 Boy Scout Handbook