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Internet Safety for Online Learning

How can you stay safe on the Internet? Follow these guidelines to protect yourself online

Do not give out personal information.

This includes your name, school, telephone number, address, photos, credit card numbers, or information about yourself. Also do not give out information about your friends or family. You do not have to fill out forms or answer questions on the Internet. Online contests may be used to trick you into revealing personal information, so be cautious. Be careful about what you say in chat rooms. You do not know who is online with you.

Never arrange to meet in person with people you have met online.

Don't arrange telephone calls, either. If you're a teenager, let your parents know if someone you've met online wants to arrange a meeting. Some people on the Internet pretend to be someone else. Do not accept gifts from strangers online.

For more information about online predators, visit these websites:

ProtectKids.com - describes how to be careful while using the Internet. This includes developing relationships online, criminal behavior, and child exploitation.

NetSmartz.org - offers a variety of tools and games to keep kids and teens safer on the Internet. This is for kids, parents, and educators.

Beware of online bullying.

Bullying happens at online school, too. If you are being bullied online by other students or are receiving abusive messages, tell someone in authority.

Do not post anything that could hurt others or have a negative effect.

What you post on the Internet may be seen by friends, strangers, teachers, and, later, even colleges and possible employers. Once you post something online, it's very hard to remove it from public view. Posting to newsgroups may make your e-mail address public.

The online school you choose may have a safe place like a protected school discussion board. This is where you can post school-appropriate information.

Protect passwords. Do not to give them to friends (not even your best friend).

Being savvy on the Internet is part of being an online learner. Allowing other people access to your passwords may put your schoolwork in danger.

Develop good Internet practices when using the Internet.

Be careful about opening ads or e-mail from unfamiliar addresses. These can carry viruses, steal personal information, or sign you up for unwanted e-mail and ads. Also be careful about downloading files or installing software.

Be honest and ethical about work that is submitted for class.

You should not plagiarize or claim someone else's work as your own. It is against the law to distribute writing, music, art, or other works that were created and copyrighted by someone else. Teachers are good at detecting borrowed phrases, and they may use special software to detect plagiarism. Follow your school's policy for citing works.

Balance computer time with other activities.

Balance in life is important. Take regular breaks from schoolwork and using the computer. When investigating any online program, ask how much time you will need to be on the computer each week. Many programs offer activities both on and off the computer. Even if you enjoy the computer, it is important to balance computer time with other activities.

Evaluate information on the Internet.

Do not believe everything you find or receive on the Internet. Learn to tell the difference between reliable and unreliable information. Take the time to investigate this issue with your online school.

Source: North American Council for Online Learning and Minnesota Department of Education