3 Online Safety Tips for College Students

by Ana Felce

The ubiquity of cell phones and technology on college campuses can be a blessing and a curse. With increased access to the internet and social media, connecting and communicating with friends can happen at the click of a button. But online safety is a growing concern on college campuses, where computers are now an integral part of the learning culture and environment. It’s important for students to be careful and aware when using the internet, as it’s not always a safe place.

1. Use Social Media Wisely

Almost everyone uses social media these days, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, or another network. However, it’s important to think twice before posting to your profile. Anything you post online can be saved or found by others and it might come back to haunt you. Even if you think that your profile is private, you never know where your photos might end up. Negative messages or inappropriate photos could hurt your job search efforts in the future if a potential employer finds them. A good rule to follow: Post things that are true, useful, and appropriate. Ask yourself: Is this something you would like your parents or grandparents to see?

2. Handle Online Harassment Safely

If you find yourself the victim of online harassment or bullying, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Save any messages the person sends you and block them on all your networks. Then, reach out to site administrators to let them know. Many social network sites have anti-bullying teams that take this seriously and can remove those users from the site permanently.

If the harassment continues or involves threats, reach out to your campus or local police. Be sure to record all contact made by the person harassing you and know that you’re not alone. Campus Safety can help you make sure the harassment stops.

3. Be Careful With Your Information

While online, be careful who you share personal information with. Anyone can be whoever they want to be when hiding behind a computer screen. If you meet someone online, be extremely cautious. Never give out your full name, birthday, address, schedule, school ID number, or any other information that could be used to find you. Remember, you never know who it is that you’re really talking to online.

Also, be careful when sharing information on a website. Never share important details, like your Social Security number, or credit card information, on a site that you don’t know to be 100 percent secure. While online shopping, make sure that you’re buying from a familiar, trustworthy company and that the site has safety certificates guaranteeing your information is safe. Tip: Look for “https://“ in the URL. If you’re ever not sure, don’t share your personal information.

Thanks to the internet, we’re more connected than ever before. Having all of this access is great, but it’s important to be careful of the risks that do exist. With just a few precautions, you can help to prevent yourself from becoming a victim by making smart choices about what you share and do online.