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Online Safety Tips for LGBTQ+ Youth

Navigating online safety can be challenging for anyone. However, LGBTQ+ youth often face unique risks and challenges. Online spaces can be a great place to seek support and community, but also increase the risk for young people to be exposed to cyberbullying and harmful content. Ensuring online safety is vital for protecting your mental health and well-being. Here are 10 online safety tips for LGBTQ+ youth as they engage in online communities:

  1. Protect your privacy. Be cautious about sharing any personal information such as your address, the name of your school, or places you like to hang out. You may also want to consider using a pseudonym and using an avatar as your profile picture to protect your identity as well.
  2. Be cautious with online interactions. It’s important to remember that not everyone you meet online has good intentions. It’s okay to disengage from conversations that make you feel uncomfortable.
  3. Seek out safe and supportive communities. Join trustworthy, fully moderated LGBTQ+ groups and forums that maintain a safe environment. Consider reputable online communities that offer support and resources such as GLAAD or The Trevor Project.
  4. Be aware of scams and misinformation. Keep an eye out for scams that target people in the LGBTQ+ community such as fake profiles or fraudulent fundraising campaigns. And, be sure to verify any information you read online since harmful misinformation can easily be spread.
  5. It’s okay to stay anonymous. If you are unable to fully express your identity in person, you may find that chatting in online forums and seeking support allows you to be yourself. However, if you’re not ready to share the full scope of your identity with others, know that it is okay to keep your identity anonymous and to keep your online circle small.
  6. Use secure connections. Using public Wi-Fi networks can make it easier for your data to be intercepted. You may consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to protect your internet connection and privacy.
  7. Look out for others. If you see a post online that causes concern for someone else’s safety, let a group moderator know so that they are able to connect that person with resources for help. Be aware of helpful tools such as the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and the Trevor Project Lifeline if you or someone you know needs someone to talk to in a time of crisis.
  8. Take precaution. Before meeting up with an online acquaintance in person, take precautions such as meeting in a public place, telling a friend or family member about your plans, and have your transportation arranged ahead of time.
  9. Block it out. If you are experiencing any form of cyberbullying or online harassment, block the perpetrator and their negative comments. You may also consider reporting their account so that they are unable to harass others. When you block or report someone online, it is done so anonymously.
  10. Trust your gut. If something feels uncomfortable or off online, trust your gut and disengage. Tell a trusted adult if you’ve been made to do or say something you did not want to do or felt like you didn’t have the chance to say no.

In the digital world we live in, online safety is everything – especially for people in underrepresented groups. If you have questions while exploring your identity and need additional support, Centerstone is here. Call us at 877-HOPE123 or (1-877-467-3123) or visit our counseling services page to learn more.

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