1. Get to know them REALLY well
- University/College/High School
- Future aspirations
- Their intentions (if they want to get with you or just be friends)
- Full name and what country or city they are from
- Talk to then for MONTHS if you need to in order to feel like you really, truly know them.
- For further reassurance, introduce them to your friends so they can also talk and gauge their character.
- If the person seems nice and as if they are telling the truth, move to #2. If they are creepy, stop here.
- Don’t give out valuable personal info such as your home address.
2. Confirm their identity
This is where internet stalking is totally okay. For safety reasons.
- Ask for a photo
- Search that photo on Google by clicking and dragging the image into a tab with Google open. It will search EVERY instance of that photo on the internet. You can check if it’s a fake photo this way.
- Check their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, anything else you can find.
- If you cannot find any social media, take this as a big red flag.
- If you can find social medias, see if what you learned from getting to know them aligns with what you find.
3. VIDEO CHAT!***
- Add them on Skype and talk to each other over videocam.
- If the person refuses, take this as a red flag.
- While on cam, look at their room for clues and see if you hear any people in the background such as their parents, siblings, friends, etc.
- Get them to show you stuff in their room to get to know them better (and confirm anything they told you in the past), such as old yearbooks, sports trophies, posters, etc.
- Get them to show you their IDs (driver’s licence, passport, etc). Hide your address. They should also hide theirs.
I love snapchat because it is real time, and people snapchat a bunch of useless daily life stuffies.
- Get them to snapchat you throughout the day
- Get them to snapchat their friends, family, while they are in class, what they ate for lunch, just about anything they feel like.
- This will help you get to know their daily patterns and once again, whether or not they are bullshitting.
5. Tell your parents & friends
- Tell your parents you met someone online, and hear them out as they warn you about the dangers.
- If you can convince your parents and friends that this person is safe, you have sufficiently gathered enough information to consider them safe-ish to meet. (in most cases. Some parents don’t care.)
- If your parents are not interested and say okay without you convincing them, maybe talk to a teacher you like, a more conservative friend, or a different family member.
- If you are an older adult and don’t need parents approval, make sure to inform your friends about this person and ask their opinion.
6. Meet in a VERY public place.
- My mom does a lot of online dating, and she ONLY ever meets guys in a public place so that she could leave at any time without trouble.
- Meet someone in public, like a coffee shop, cafe, restaurant, bookstore, etc.
- Always inform your friends and family where you are meeting this person, and what time you are meeting them.
- Tell your friends & family that you will text them to let them know you are safe at a specific time, and if you do not, to call you. If you don’t pick up after 3 calls, they should call the police.
- Text this same person every hour to let them know you are okay.
- If you are younger, make sure to meet this new person with your parents or with a group of friends.
- If you are very scared, stay on the phone with someone while you wait to meet the new person. This way, if anything goes wrong, someone will be on the phone with you to coach you through. And if you hang up unexpectedly, they can call for help.
7. If something goes wrong…
- If you suddenly feel uncomfortable, don’t feel as if you can’t leave.
- Tap another stranger’s shoulder and ask if you can use their phone to call your parents, even if you have your own fully-charged phone.
- This is to involve a stranger/witness to the situation and ensure your safety.
- NEVER EVER meet a group of boys alone if you are a young girl. Just don’t. If your internet friend brings a few people and they outnumber you, call someone, stay on the phone and leave.
- Do not go home with them. *****
- If you are in a public place and something goes wrong, yell FIRE or HELP instead of rape. Less people will respond to rape, which is a sad reality.
- Have a whistle with you for emergencies.
8. Online Safety Resources
If you have anything to add, please do! I’m sure there are 1000 tips to stay safe.