Think about what you post. Sharing provocative photos or intimate details online, even in private emails, can cause you problems later on. Even people you consider friends can use this info against you, especially if they become ex-friends.
Read between the "lines.� It may be fun to check out new people for friendship or romance, but be aware that, while some people are nice, others act nice because they�re trying to get something. Flattering or supportive messages may be more about manipulation than friendship or romance.
Don�t talk about sex with strangers. Be cautious when communicating with people you don�t know in person, especially if the conversation starts to be about sex or physical details. Don�t lead them on � you don�t want to be the target of a predator�s grooming. If they persist, call your local police or contact CyberTipline.com.
Avoid in-person meetings. The only way someone can physically harm you is if you�re both in the same location, so � to be 100% safe � don�t meet them in person. If you really have to get together with someone you "met� online, don�t go alone. Have the meeting in a public place, tell a parent or some other solid backup, and bring some friends along.
Be smart when using a cell phone. All the same tips apply with phones as with computers. Except phones are with you wherever you are, often away from home and your usual support systems. Be careful who you give your number to and how you use GPS and other technologies that can pinpoint your physical location.
Teen Driving Tips
One of the highlights of the teen years is the ability to get a driver�s license. Of course, all states have required tests that must be passed, both written and driving ones. However, there are many rules that should be adhered to, as different situations pop up when drivers are on the road. Since teenagers are driving for the first time, it is important to know all the rules of the road.
Driving in Bad Weather
It�s easy to drive on a bright, sunny day. But once winter hits, snow and ice can make for hazardous conditions. Follow teen driving tips to ensure a safe drive in inclement weather conditions. Winter driving can be the worst, especially for inexperienced teenage drivers. To drive safe:
- Always make sure the hazard lights, or daytime running lights, are on.
- Brake softly and gently, and keep a minimum of three car lengths between you and the car in front of you.
- When starting out in snow and ice, test the brakes gently to see how bad the roads are.
- In rain, slow down to avoid hydroplaning.
- Keep the windshields clean.
- Keep the headlights and back brake lights clean and clear of snow, ice and debris.
- Carry the essential winter items, such as chains, de-icer, an ice scraper, windshield wiper fluid, a shovel in case you get stuck, and sand in the event you need traction to get out of snow and mud.
- Give yourself plenty of time to go somewhere when it is bad out.
- Keep the gas tank full.
Driving on the Highway
Teenagers should start out slow when driving on the highways. The first time should be done either very early in the morning or later at night when the traffic is not too bad. Highway driving can be tricky, even for experienced drivers, so first time drivers should tread carefully.
- Practice merging safely onto the roadway a number of times until comfortable doing so in heavier traffic.
- Get into the habit of frequently checking on the vehicles that are around.
- Big trucks and tractor trailers can kick up a lot of water and slush if it is raining, so make sure the windshield wipers work properly.
- When in front of a large commercial vehicle, such as an 18 wheeler, give plenty of warning for lane changes and turns.
- Stay within site of a tractor-trailers mirrors- if you can�t see their mirrors, then they cannot see you.
- Obey the speed limit.
- Watch for merging traffic, and pull into the left hand lane if clear to allow others access.
- Many states have laws that only permit drivers to pass in the left hand lane, and not stay driving in them.
Driving Near School
Teenagers may be driving themselves to school, and driving during the hours that schools are starting and ending. There are many tips that should be followed while driving near a school.
- Drive below the posted speed limit. Most schools will use flashing lights to warn drivers to slow down, usually during the hours of 7 am to 9am, and again from 2pm to 4pm. However, depending on the school, these times can change.
- Stop for all school buses, even if their flashing lights are not on.
- Always stop at crosswalks.
Internet Safety Tips for Teens
- Personal Information. Don�t give out personal information without your parents� permission. This means you should not share your last name, home address, school name, or telephone number. Remember, just because someone asks for information about you does not mean you have to tell them anything about yourself!
- Screen Name. When creating your screen name, do not include personal information like your last name or date of birth.
- Passwords. Don�t share your password with anyone but your parents. When you use a public computer make sure you logout of the accounts you�ve accessed before leaving the terminal.
- Photos. Don�t post photos or videos online without getting your parents� permission.
- Online Friends. Don�t agree to meet an online friend unless you have your parents� permission. Unfortunately, sometimes people pretend to be people they aren't. Remember that not everything you read online is true.
- Online Ads. Don�t buy anything online without talking to your parents first. Some ads may try to trick you by offering free things or telling you that you have won something as a way of collecting your personal information.
- Downloading. Talk to your parents before you open an email attachment or download software. Attachments sometimes contain viruses. Never open an attachment from someone you don�t know.
- Bullying. Don�t send or respond to mean or insulting messages. Tell your parents if you receive one. If something happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable, talk to your parents or to a teacher at school.
- Social Networking. Many social networking websites (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Second Life and MySpace) and blog hosting websites have minimum age requirements to signup. These requirements are there to protect you!
- Research. Talk to your librarian, teacher or parent about safe and accurate websites for research. The public library offers lots of resources. If you use online information in a school project make sure you explain where you got the information.
Social web safety tips for teens
Sexting is the sending of nude or suggestive photographs by text message, and, when teenagers do it, it can be illegal. Pennsylvania lawmakers have enacted a specific law that makes teen sexting a crime, but a less serious one than child pornography. However, depending on the circumstances, teen sexting could also be considered child pornography or obscenity.
Pennsylvania�s Teen Sexting Law
In 2012, Pennsylvania enacted a law criminalizing the transmission of sexually explicit images by minors. Under the state�s sexting law, it is a crime for a minor (a person under the age of 18) to:
- transmit, distribute, or disseminate (share) an electronic communication (such as a text message or instant message) containing a nude image of him or herself or any other person age 12 or older, but younger than 18, or
- possess a nude photo of another person between the ages of 12 and 17.
For example, both a teen who sends a photo of a nude classmate and one who receives the photo could be prosecuted under Pennsylvania law. Teen sexting is punished more severely if the defendant takes or shares a nude photo of another teen without the teen�s permission, and in order to harass that person or cause him or her emotional distress. For example, a boy who shares nude photos of his ex-girlfriend after they break up could be charged with a more serious crime. Pennsylvania's teen sexting law does not apply to images taken or distributed for commercial purposes, or images of sexual intercourse, penetration, or masturbation, or any other hardcore sexual images.
(18 Pa. Con. Stat. �� 5702, 6321.)
Pennsylvania�s child pornography law makes clear that it does not apply to conduct prohibited under the state�s teen sexting law or to a child taking a nude photo of him or herself. However, it is considered child pornography (also called sexual abuse of children) to photograph or film a child under the age of 18 engaging in a prohibited sex act (sexual intercourse, oral or anal sex, masturbation, or lewd exhibition of the genitals) or cause a child to engage in a prohibited sex act for the purpose of being filmed, recorded, or photographed. It is also a crime for an adult to possess, distribute, disseminate, or exhibit to others child pornography (or for a teen to possess such an image if it features explicit sex or a child under the age of 12). For example, a Pennsylvania man was convicted of child pornography based on photos he took of his 16-year-old girlfriend, with whom he lived and with whom he had a child. (Commonwealth v. Kitchen, 814 A.2d 209 (2002).)
Under Pennsylvania�s laws, it is also a crime to photograph, manufacture, or prepare any obscene material depicting a child under the age of 18; or produce, present, direct, or participate in any obscene performance featuring a child under the age of 18. It is also a crime to:
- sell, give away, transmit, or show any obscene material to a child under the age of 18, or
- disseminate any sexually explicit material depicting nudity or sexual conduct to a minor.
Generally, nude photographs or photographs that are sexual in nature are considered obscene. For example, an adult that shares a nude photo of him or herself with a teen could be charged with disseminating sexually explicit material with minors.
Teen sexting. Teen sexting cases are often handled in juvenile court, where judges typically have greater discretion as to the outcome than they do in adult criminal court. Teens who possess images of other teens or who share images of themselves can be convicted of summary offenses. Summary offenses are punishable by up to 90 days in a jail and a fine of up to $300. The court may refer the teen to a diversionary program that includes an educational program about the consequences of sexting.
Sharing a teen sext depicting another person is a misdemeanor of the third degree, punishable by up to one year in jail and no more than $2,500 in fines. It is a misdemeanor of the second degree (punishable by up to two years' incarceration and no more than $5,000 in fines) for a teen to share a sext of another teen without permission and in order to harass the child depicted. Under the teen sexting law, any cell phone or electronic communication device involved can be forfeited (taken by the state without compensation to the owner).
Pornography and obscenity. Photographing child pornography or causing a child to participate in the making of pornography is a second degree felony, punishable by up to ten years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines. Possessing or distributing child pornography is a felony of the third degree, punishable by as much as seven years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines. Disseminating sexually explicit material to a minor is also a felony of the third degree. Other obscenity convictions are misdemeanors of the first degree, punishable by up to five years in prison and no more than $10,000 in fines.
(18 Pa. Con. Stat. �� 5903, 6312, 6321.)
Sex Offender Registration
In Pennsylvania, people convicted of child pornography crimes and any obscenity offenses where children are involved are required to register as sex offenders.
Other Consequences of Teen Sexting
Teen sexting has other consequences, even if no criminal charges are filed. Images can easily be forwarded and shared, and even posted online. This can cause lasting damage to a teen�s reputation. Teens whose private images are shared are often humiliated and bullied. Some may become depressed and hurt themselves. Students who take, possess, or share sexts can get in trouble at school.