Senator Heidi Heitkamp United States Senator for North Dakota

Internet Safety

Now more than ever, our kids are receiving their information online starting at very young ages, and are using the internet in new ways to connect socially and to learn more about the world around them. But many of that new terrain can also expose them to threats that can compromise their safety and well-being. Just as we teach our kids not to open the door for strangers, all kids should learn similar lessons that apply to them online. That’s why Senator Heitkamp teamed up with Google to talk about the ABC’s of online safety with students in Bismarck in September 2017. This webpage builds on that effort by highlighting the information shared during Google's Online Roadshow and sharing additional resources for parents, senior citizens, and more. 

From Google, here are five tips for online safety. 

Tip 1 - Think Before You Share

The web connects us and allows us to share in ways that have never before been possible. We can reach friends near and far with just a click.

But what you share and who you share it with can end up saying a lot about you.

To help create the best version of your story online, it’s good to know our first tip: think before you share.

What’s this mean? That anything you post online, any message, picture, status update or blog post has the potential to be shared. If something you shared privately became public, how would that make you feel? And how might it affect how others think about you if they saw it? So it's always good to think about these things before you share online.

Tip 2 - Protect Your Stuff


Our second tip, is to protect your stuff.

Most of us have things on the web that we want to keep safe. One of the best ways to keep those things safe is to make sure that you have set strong passwords on your accounts.

Strong passwords are really important. They safeguard your information online. Like the key to your house or the combination to your locker -- they protect things that are of value to you.

And once a strong password has been created, it should not be shared with anyone. Unless it is your parent or a trusted adult.

Protecting your stuff also means locking devices AND your screens. Leaving screens open to anyone means losing your phone or lending it to others, could result in unwanted account hacking.

Tip 3 - Know and Use Your Settings

The settings on the sites you visit allow you to choose what you share and who you share with.

Understand and adjust your settings on the sites and apps you use. Adjust settings accordingly so you only share with those people that you want to share with. This means posts, geo-tagging, photo uploading, profiles, etc.

Tip 4 - Avoid Scams

Know how to identify scams online. Everyone knows you never take candy from a stranger. The same principle applies online.

If someone offers you some new shoes, an iPad or told you that you won a trip to Hawaii - you should be suspicious. This might seem harmless, but these could be very dangerous ways to lure you in and steal your passwords or even your identity.

And sometimes, scammers might try to impersonate someone or something you know. It's called phishing. So if it seems fishy, it probably is.

Tip 5 - Be Positive


Being positive on the web means that you should only post, comment or forward something, if you wouldn’t mind someone doing the same to you. Because even small quick actions online can have a lasting impact.

And if you DO see something that is cruel, unkind or offensive - whether it's on your own profile or elsewhere, feel empowered to report it.

All reputable sites online have reporting techniques. Just like you should know where the settings are on sites you use, you should also familiarize yourself with the reporting settings.

But keeping it positive online is a great way to avoid having to use reporting settings, and a great way to encourage others to be kind on the Internet as well.