Online relationships and communications is a growing epidemic in todays day and age. With new technology introduced every day it is no secret that youth and adults are finding new ways to communicate amongst their peers and with strangers around the world. Online relationships and communication go hand in hand; one cannot exist without the other.

The definition of both these terms are obvious and straight forward. According to online communication can be defined as, "The numerous ways people communicate with each other over the internet". Online or internet relationships are interpersonal relationships between individuals who have meet online and are sustained. These types of relationships can be classified as romantic, business, or platonic all depending on the individuals involved. Both online communication and relationships can sustained via email, instant message, text message, virtual character, video, etc.

With more opportunities to communicate online presenting itself for youth it is important to discuss the potential risks and safety strategies. To the left of the screen you will find a video clip of the MTV show Catfish. Online anything presents an opportunity for individuals to create a fake persona. It is imperative that we teach our youth to questions who and what they see online because there is a definite potential of it being fake. An article entitled Youth Internet Use: Risk and Opportunities address another potential risk, exposer to inappropriate materials. The internet can be a great resource but with technology advances it is becoming easier to share materials and files online. Online communication can also lead to potential violence and threats. With Cyber-Bullying becoming more and more present in today's youth life it is important to educate individuals on the expectations of them while online. Having good manners should not only be taught for face-to-face interactions, it should be taught across the board. Educate your youth on what it means to be a digital citizen.

Tips for Students:
  • Be careful with the information you put out there! Be selective! Do not put your phone number, email, home address, etc.
  • "If it walks, talks, looks like a duck, it's a duck". Trust your instincts.
  • Be selective of who you chose to come in contact with online.

Tips for Parents:
  • Be aware of what and who your child is in communication with.
  • Know the purpose and types of websites your child is using.
  • Set an allotted time for online use and interactions.

Tips for Educators:
  • Educate your students on digital educate!
  • Be aware of what and who your students are communicating with during school hours.
  • Educate your students on the potential dangers of communicating online.

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