We know that the Internet isn’t a scary place. Come on, it’s where we found that amazing picture.
But it’s important to remember that interacting with people online can get complicated. Relationships and friendships can be confusing, and when you’re talking to someone online, it’s can be especially hard to figure out what the other person is actually thinking.
Unfortunately, there’s no app that sends you every time a conversation is getting kind of risky. But by knowing some warning signs, safety rules of thumb, and what to do if you do feel uncomfortable, you can help protect yourself and your friends.
WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE’S MAKING YOU UNCOMFORTABLE
First, never agree to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable. You’re in charge of your life.
Even if another person seems to be a friend, they’re no friend if they’re trying to get you to do anything against your will or your best interests.
- If something seems off, trust your instincts.
- It’s hard to make a good decision when you’re feeling confused, so you should be as clear as possible in your own mind about what is and isn’t in your own interests.
- If you need help with this, talk to someone you trust such as a friend, sibling, teacher or parent. If you’d rather talk to someone anonymously, you can text “LISTEN” to 741-741.
- If you receive any unwanted sexual comments or communication online, the best thing you can do is remove yourself from the conversation.
- Understand your safety settings. If it doesn’t stop immediately, you should block the person and consider reporting it to the safety team of whatever website you are on. You should also consider talking about it with an adult you trust.
- If you’re under 18 and someone is pressuring you to engage in sexual activities (e.g. cybersex, photos, webcamming) or is sending you explicit material, don’t hesitate to call the police or the CyberTipline at 1-800-843-5678. They have advisers available 24/7 to help.
- If this person’s a relative or someone in your household and you need help, contact the police, go to RAINN.org/online or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
It’s easy to come across x-rated photos and videos, even if we’re not looking for them. Maybe you’re just scrolling through Youtube, or Googling a seemingly harmless search like “Dick’s Sporting Goods.” And whether you’ve seen it by accident or on purpose, there’s no denying that porn is all over the internet.
What you may not have thought about is how pornography can affect the way you view your friends or boyfriend/girlfriend and how you interact with them.
Recent studies on the effects of viewing pornography suggest that youth who watch porn may develop unrealistic ideas and expectations about sex. When a group asked 500 18-year-olds in the UK about online pornography, a lot of them said that they felt like it lead to unrealistic attitudes towards sex, and a lot of the girls said they felt like it pressured them to look and act a certain way.
When we have unrealistic ideas about sex, it can make us vulnerable to doing things or treating others in a way we don’t actually want to.
That doesn’t sound so fun does it?
Though people have different experiences with and opinions on pornography, we suggest you talk to someone you trust about the role it has in your life (if any!), especially if you’re struggling with staying away from pornography even when you want to. It might feel awkward to bring it up, but it will be so much easier to have people supporting you. Websites like Fight the New Drug have helpful resources and stories to remind you that you’re not alone.
Also, some pornography may feature images of someone who didn’t want to be or know they are being shown in this way. If you come across a image or video that’s concerning, especially if it involves a young person, find a trusted adult and talk to them.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT