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Chatting to friends using IM, in chat rooms and on social networking sites can be a great way to keep up to date. Meeting new friends online is also pretty fun. You can meet people online that are into the same bands or sports, or you can keep in touch with old friends who have moved away. But while there are lots of good points about keeping in touch, there are also some risks with meeting people online—especially if you don’t know them in real life. To help stay safe while you chat, remember some simple tips:

Tips

Be careful who you trust online. A person can pretend to be someone they are not, online.

 
Choose your friends. While it’s good to have a lot of friends, having hundreds of online friends makes it harder to control what happens to information you post online. Don’t accept friend requests if you’re not sure about the person.

 
Keep your friends list manageable. by making sure that the majority of your friends are your real life ones. It’s a good idea to occasionally spring-clean your friends list to remove people you don’t know in person, especially if you haven’t heard from them in a while.

 
Keep your personal details private. Use an appropriate handle or username instead of your real name in a chat room where they may be lots of people you don’t know. Don’t give anyone on the internet your name, address, phone number or any other personal details if you are unsure.


 



Always keep your password secret. Don’t even share it with your friends.

 
If you want to arrange to meet someone you’ve met online, ask an adult you trust like your mum, dad, an older brother or sister or another adult to go with you. Always meet in a public place, preferably during the day.

 
If someone writes something rude, offensive or something you don't like, don’t respond, and block them.

 
Use appropriate avatars. While it’s fun to make up new characters, be aware of how others see you online, and keep it safe. If your avatar is too sexed up, you might attract attention from people you don’t really want to communicate with.

 
Think twice about what you say and post, and the type of information you give to people. Even little bits of information can be used to build a bigger picture and make it possible for someone to steal your identity. Posts on the internet can remain there for a long time and easily become public, so if it’s not something you’d want your mum to see, don’t post it!