The Dangers of Being Online

Online safety is becoming increasingly important as internet usage skyrockets.

Michael Walker

Online safety is becoming increasingly important as internet usage skyrockets.

Onyx Barnhill, First Year Journalism Student

Being on the internet is common among kids and even adults today because we are always on zoom meetings, talking to friends, or just using social media like everyone else. Not always is it just a place where kids can go to school and talk to their friends it is also one of the biggest platforms for predators.

When asking two anonymous teenagers who are frequently online, They both stated that they got around four to six weird messages each month from people or accounts they didn’t know. Usually, the messages are just easy blocks because the account is obviously fake.
When asked about what they do when they respond to some messages, person one said they are usually just random people looking for friends but sometimes it seems to lead to something weird so they block them if they start asking about personal things.

Both people were asked if they’ve ever made friends online because having online friends is pretty common with teens now. Person one said they’ve made friends on Snapchat before but it doesn’t last long because people take a long time to respond so the friendships usually fades out. Person two said they had someone who helped them online both emotionally and just as a friend.

“Yes, I’ve made friends on servers made for video games or YouTubers. I made a friend a while ago who helped me through a tough time and when I didn’t have people in real life I would go online and talk to them it was just like a real friend. We lost connection after a while though.”

Considering that teens do make friends online, it’s possible some could be dangerous so asking the question if they’ve ever met up with any of the people they’ve befriended on the internet they said they haven’t and usually just block the person after because they didn’t want to share that info or meet with someone they don’t know.

However, the internet can be dangerous it can also help teens in different ways. Has the internet ever helped these people in some sort of way whether it is big or small? They answered with simple explanations because not always is it a big emergency when hotlines or calls are needed. Both students indicated that they’ve used the internet in a helpful way.

“Yes, I’ve used a suicide hotline.” One student stated they’ve used the internet in a way to find help while another used it to get someone help.
“I’ve only ever needed to use one once and it was just for a doctor.”

The internet isn’t always going to be a scary palace where predators hide and come out to get children. It is also used for teens to find friends they can trust and bond over online experiences with. It can also be used for beneficial reasons like suicide hotlines and emergency calls. According to COVID-19 and the Natinal Suicide Prevention Lifeline the amount of calls through the internet have increased since 2019 by 65% because of kids being on the internet more. This is their way out and this is what they use to their advantage. Parents might think it’s all just unsafe but when asking my interviewees they both gave their opinions overall of how most kids are on the internet.

When asked about how safe the internet is and what kids can do to stay safe and what not to do these were their answers.

“I think it can be safe if you’re old enough and careful.” This is a simple statement about being safe.
“The internet can be a safe place if you know what you’re doing and yeah I definitely think you can make friends because I’ve done it. You just got to know what to look out for.” This student went into a little more detail about how you can stay safe online.
Look out for people who text strange messages, ask for personal information, and stay safe, blocking is always an option, it’s just a screen, stay safe and have fun.