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10 Tips for Teen Blogging
The following list of tips for teen blogging were written by Linda Criddle, an Internet risk specialist for MSN.com.
1. Lose the last name on your site, and don't use other people's full names or anything else that identifies you or them. To be even safer, don't use your first name, either, or a nickname that would attract the wrong kind of attention.
2. Drop any information that locates you — school, where you work, even the town name if it's a smaller town.
3. Consider if you really want your space completely public (you probably don't). Think of it as a sliding scale: The more personal or identifiable the information, the fewer people you should share it with.
4. If you wouldn't share the information (or photos) with the creepiest guy you can think of, then don't post it to the public online.
5. A predator's first online goal is to get your trust. Online friends are great and everything they tell you may be completely true. But keep your radar up and if anyone feels sketchy, they probably are.
6. Be smart about photos. What's on your shirt: the name of your high school or sports team? Is your last name under the number? What's in the background: your house number, a street sign, a landmark? Don't label your photos with the full names of the people in the photos. And when people are trying to look sexy or cool, what they are really telling a predator is that they want people to notice them and make them feel important or special. A predator would be delighted to do just that.
7. Be careful about expressing your emotions to strangers. This is the hardest for teens to understand, as you can't always read your own emotions, let alone the emotions or motivations of others. And you express emotions, directly in the words you write, in poems you write or share, in the pictures you post. Predators can see you're proud of your body or sad or lacking self-esteem.
8. Be savvy about what your friends write about you on their Spaces and blogs. You may not be the one putting you or your family at risk.
9. Remember that any information you share has monetary value, so don't sell yourself out.
10. If you think there's a problem, report it. At once. It doesn't matter if you have to admit you did something stupid. Just tell your folks. Never play roulette with your safety.
Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company