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When you visit web sites you can read newspapers, tour museums, check out libraries, visit distant lands, play games, look at pictures, shop, or do research to help you with your homework. There are millions of web sites on just about every subject imaginable.

Some web sites are awesome, others are boring, and some contain so-called “adult” images and other material that can be dangerous for teens. Others are demeaning, racist, sexist, and violent or contain false information. Some of these sites contain stuff that can make people feel badly or even hurt people. If you end up in any of these areas, immediately leave by clicking on the Home icon, going to another site, or shutting down your browser.

Some web sites ask for information about you. The site may ask for your name, your mailing address, your E-mail address, and other information before letting you in. It may ask you to provide information in exchange for sending you a gift or entering your name in a contest. Never enter any information about yourself without first checking with your parents or guardians.

When you enter information on a web site or any place on the Internet, you’re giving up some of your privacy. Your name may wind up in some database, probably to be used to sell you something now or later. Or it may be used to try to harm or take advantage of you.

Just because a web site seems to be OK doesn’t mean it necessarily is what it seems to be. Anyone — including creeps and criminals — can set up their own web site.

If you download anything from a web site, be extra careful. Some web sites ask your permission to download a program or “plug-in.” In some cases these programs can be used to display annoying advertising on your computer. Even worse, they can invade your privacy by tracking what you’re doing online. They can also plant viruses or increase your risk of a “hacker attack.” Don’t download anything unless you’re certain it is from a trustworthy source.

Some teenagers have their own web sites or post information on web sites run by the school they go to or an organization they belong to. That’s terrific, but if you do post something on the web, be sure to never include your home address, telephone number, school name, or photograph. If you do want people to be able to contact you online, just give a nondescript E-mail address, but make sure you have your parents’ or guardians’ permission first.