Internet Safety Tips for Teens with Autism

The Internet is an incredible place with a lot of positive possibilities, from learning to socialization to fun. However, you also need to be careful when exploring on the Internet. We’ve made a list of Internet safety tips for teens with autism so you can have fun online while staying safe. Keep reading to learn about Internet safety and autism!

Internet Risks

Everyone is at risk on the Internet if they don’t follow proper safety precautions. Before we dive into our tips for autistic teens and Internet safety, let’s take a look at some of the risks that the Internet presents.

Addiction to Games or Social Networking

Anyone can become a compulsive Internet user, but teens on the spectrum are especially vulnerable. It’s understandable—the Internet offers the ability to become immersed in fantasy worlds where exploration and expression feel more comfortable. However, focusing only on virtual contact can limit your ability in real social situations. 

Inappropriate Content

There’s a lot on the Internet, and not all of it is appropriate for everyone. Whether the content is overly violent or sexual, you can accidentally see something you wish you hadn’t. Depending on the content, it can be downright scary! Beyond frightening images, there are even some things on the Internet that are illegal, so it’s important to stay where it’s safe on the web.

Predators 

There are a few different types of Internet predators. Some people on the Internet may want your personal information so they can take money from you or your parents, while others may want to meet in person by pretending to be someone they’re not. In either case, it’s important to know the signs of Internet predators so you can properly avoid them. 

Cyberbullies

While predators may want to steal your information, cyberbullies want to hurt your feelings. Cyberbullies might spread rumors about you, threaten you, or even stalk you online or in real life.

Bullying is a big problem for teenagers on the autism spectrum, but there are many Internet safety tips that can help you avoid cyberbullies.

Safety Tips

Now that you understand some of the possible risks of the Internet, let’s discuss safety tips to protect yourself online. 

Keep Personal Information Private

This is the most essential safety tip on this list. Do not give out your personal information on the Internet. That means your address, phone number, birth date, social security number, and where you go to school. All of these pieces of information can be used by predators to learn more about you than they should know. 

If you do need to provide personal information (for example, some social media websites require a phone number to sign up), check with a trusted adult to make sure everything looks safe before submitting anything online.

Connect Only with Friends

All of the main social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow you to set your profile’s privacy settings. One of the best things you can do to promote safety is to set it so you can only interact with family and friends. That way, strangers on the web can’t find your profile to talk to you and you are certain you’re chatting with people you actually know. 

group of young adults working around table

Use Report Functions

Social media platforms and many online games have “report” functions that allow you to notify moderators when someone is doing something suspicious. If someone tries to get your personal information or is mean to you, you can report them. This will help websites protect you and other users.

Tell an Adult When Something Seems Strange

When interacting with someone online, you may notice that something seems wrong. Maybe the person you are talking to hasn’t asked for personal information, but they are still making you feel uncomfortable. When that happens, tell a trusted adult what’s going on.

Be Thoughtful About What You Post

blog post graphic for "Internet Safety Tips for Teens with Autism" depicting teens using laptop

Once something is on the Internet, it never goes away. Even if you delete a picture or a post from your social media account, there is no guarantee that the information is gone for good. Be thoughtful and careful about what you post on the web—you don’t want a future employer to search your name and see something that prevents you from getting a job

Set Screen Limit Times

Screen limit times are essential for a healthy relationship with the Internet. It’s way too easy to spend hours online, either playing games, watching videos, or chatting with friends. If you spend too much time online, you may miss out on genuine social interaction and real life experiences. Try to keep your Internet time below two hours every day. 

Learn Internet Etiquette 

Even if misunderstandings don’t create dangerous situations, they can still make people uncomfortable. That’s why Internet etiquette is important! For example, an important  etiquette tip is that typing in capital letters is often viewed as yelling, which others may find rude. 

Alternatively, ending a sentence with an exclamation point can make you sound more positive. For example, “Nice to meet you!” sounds more upbeat than “Nice to meet you.”

Now that you have these Internet safety tips for teens with autism, remember to be careful on the Internet and stick to safe online communities. For example, our Facebook community is a cyberbully-free zone where you can safely meet new friends online! We hope to see you there. 

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