savvy -- adj. (slang) Well informed and perceptive; shrewd.
Are you a savvy kid when it comes to online safety?
Here's a little test:
1. Have you ever given your computer password to anyone (even your best friend)?
2. Do you reply to messages you receive online even if they seem weird or make you feel uncomfortable?
3. Have you ever typed in your name, address, phone number or school name while signing up for a contest or ''freebie'' online?
If you answered ''no'' to each question, you're doing well. But if you answered ''yes'' -- even once -- it's time to review some online safety tips.
Because you don't want to be taken advantage of just because you're a kid. The Internet is awesome -- it makes the world your community. But like any community, some parts of it are safer than others.
That's why you need to think before you go online and start typing words to search for a Web site or ''wander'' into a chat room. As in the physical world, there are creeps lurking in the virtual world. That's why you need to be careful if you register at Web sites, post a personal profile or build a personal Web site. Even instant messaging -- that all-time teen favorite -- has its drawbacks.
Here are a few rules followed by cybersavvy kids:
Never give your password to anyone -- especially to your best friend! Think about it. He or she is bound to play a joke on you by using your password to log on as ''you'' and send a message to someone you know. This message might be funny -- or not. (And if your friend gets mad at ''you,'' then watch out!) Also, a favorite teen-age prank is to post a fake profile of ''you'' on the Internet. Ha ha, unless it is disgusting or provocative. Then you might start getting messages from some of the scary people out there online; they might even find out where you live.
2. Never answer online messages that make you feel uncomfortable. Even better, don't even open a message unless you recognize the sender. Just delete. Why? Think of the Internet as a telephone line. Would you respond to a stranger who called and started asking you questions? Of course not. If you do open a message that makes you uncomfortable, always tell your parents.
3. Don't sign up for contests, e-mail or anything else online unless you have your parents' permission. You don't know where the information will end up. The Children's Online Privacy Act, which took effect in April, requires commercial Web sites and online services to inform parents and obtain their ''verifiable consent'' before collecting, using or disclosing personal information from kids younger than 13.
4. Don't sign up for a pen pal online. You might get a ''pal'' who is not a kid at all, but an adult pretending to be a kid or even an inmate at a penitentiary.
Finally, don't believe everything you see online. Anyone can write anything online. (Think about it: How many people do you know who have lied about something online?) This is why you should never arrange to get together with anyone you've met online. The ''cute girl'' online could turn out to be a big, scary man in person.
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