Ditto’s Rules for Online Safety
I got an email last night – it was a really sweet email, from a really nice boy who said his name was Jordan (though I’m pretty sure that was his ‘game name’) and that Saturday was his birthday. He didn’t tell me how old he was, which is good, and he didn’t tell me where he lived, which was good, but it was pretty clear from the email that he wasn’t a ‘grown up’ type person. This was really nice, it really was, and it made me happy to hear from him, but it wasn’t all good. You see, what Jordan wanted for his birthday was a phone call from me, Ditto Monster, and he gave me his home phone number, area code and all, to call him. And yes, this really happened, this isn’t a metaphor or a made up situation to make a point, I wouldn’t actually do that. This boy sent me his home phone number and asked me to call him for his birthday. Now, for anyone who doesn’t really understand what I’m getting at, I’ll just spell it out – this is a BAD THING for any kid to do, ever.
Staying safe on the internet is a really important thing to me, and this isn’t the first time something like this has happened – I guess I have an honest face, or maybe it’s the fur, who knows. It probably happens to other popular internet people too – I’m willing to bet Justin Beiber could publish his own phone book with all the numbers he gets from people on twitter or through email. The point is that, no matter who it is, sending information like this to someone over the internet is very dangerous. Even if you’re sending information to a friend, even someone you know in real life, you have to be really careful.
I’ve put together some simple rules for internet safety – I didn’t invent them and there are lots of places to get the same, or similar rules, and they really should all be common sense, but I really want everyone who is a fan of mine, who reads my blogs or follows my daring adventures, to be safe, that’s really important to me. This is important for parents of ‘internet kids’ too, because being aware of potential dangers and problems can help you avoid them.
Rule #1 – Never give out any personal information online. Not just your phone number and address (though you should NEVER give information like that out, EVER) but also seemingly ‘innocent’ information like what school you go to, where your parents work, what sports team you play for, and things like that. While you might never even think about giving a stranger your home address, telling someone what school you go to and what sports team you play on could give them just as much information.
Rule #2 – Be really careful what you put online. Social networking, video, and picture sharing sites are great places to talk to friends and share pictures, music, and videos, but did you know that once you put something online it can be impossible to take it back? Take it from someone who knows – I posted a dumb video three years ago and it still pops up now and then…
The most important rule to remember here is NEVER assume anything you put online will ever be ‘private’, and never assume that if you send a picture or video to someone, even someone you really really trust, that they’re the only person who will ever see it.
Rule #3 – Not everyone is who they say they are online. Just ask Kanye West or any of the other celebrities who have impersonators on sites like twitter who cause them trouble. There have been waves of ‘celebrity impersonators’ in games too, and even Wizard 101 has had people saying they were Professor Falmea or Lydia Greyrose, who really weren’t.
Rule #4 – Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it’s true. And I’m not just talking about local gossip – major news organizations have been fooled by fake Twitter posts and blog posts. Once, major news organizations had reported that Will Smith died in a car accident – literally reported it out to millions of people, one of whom was Will Smith, sitting in his living room watching the news, very much not dead.
Rule #5 – Be Polite! One of my big pet peeves and certainly not the first time I’ve talked about it, but if you wouldn’t say something to someone in person, don’t say it online! It’s simple and it’s common courtesy. Just because you’re typing the words instead of speaking them doesn’t make it any less true!
So that’s it – five rules, common sense, very simple, but they can help you stay safe, and that’s the most important thing!!