Who won the most gold medals in the last Olympics? When did Carrie Underwood win American Idol? Where can I get the best deal on an Xbox? What’s the best YouTube video? Who? What? When? Why? Where?
Every question has an answer, and the place to find it is the Internet. Smart phones are our connection to the Internet and to our friends. We get our news from the Internet. iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and Amazon provide our music. Gaming lets us have fun with friends. We use social media to find out what’s happening with family, friends, sports, TV and movie stars. Some teachers let us submit homework using the Internet.
As terrific as all that is, there’s a dark side. Anything we upload to the Internet can be forwarded without our knowledge or permission. People we meet on the Internet may not be who they say – they could be stalkers, predators, or Internet trolls. We can inadvertently become cyber bullies. If we don’t stop and think before we post, we can say something hurtful and other people can add to it and send it on, hurting someone we would never hurt in person. The worst part — once it starts, it’s almost impossible to stop. We can destroy the reputation of a friend in a minute.
There are a lot of sites that give good advice about what to do, and what not to do, on the Internet. The FBI’s site is terrific – it’s short, easy to understand, and covers most of what we need to know. Be smart. Be a good citizen. Be a good friend. Be safe.