Updated July 3, 2013

Infographic: Internet Safety Statistics

Internet Safety: Online Threat Facing College Students, Identities and Credit Cards
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With wifi, smartphones and broadband available almost everywhere, college students are constantly connected to the web. While the internet has simplified some aspects of life, providing greater access to information, in some ways it has complicated the life of the modern day student. This is especially true when looking at the risks that increased internet usage can pose.

Infographics: Student Online Safety
Infographics: Student Online Safety © CreditDonkey

What students do online

There are plenty of ways to pass time on the internet. Students are using it to research, study and blow off steam. Here are just some of the ways that college students have indicated they are using the internet:

Seeking employment – 28% of college students plan to use LinkedIn and 7% plan to use Facebook to seek employment

School – 40% of faculty members now require students to use social media as part of course assignments

Social interaction – 86% of undergrads, 82% of grad students and 78% of community college students use social networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter

How internet activities pose a threat

As surprising as it may be, how you spend your time online can pose a threat to your health, reputation, identity and even financial standing.

Health – Students are losing sleep and driving recklessly due to their internet activities. Be smart before you get behind the wheel; put your phone away to reduce the temptation to text, check Facebook or surf the internet while you’re driving.

Reputation – You may get a thrill from sending risqué messages online or posting revealing pictures on Facebook, but once that information is sent, it opens you up to a reputation risk. Ten percent of all sexually suggestive images that have been sent online or via text message have been sent without consent of the person who originally sent the message. So think twice before you post that picture; potential employers may find it linked to you when they google your name.

Identity – Information like your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name and birthdate can be used to steal your identity and open credit accounts under your name. This can destroy your credit and leave you with a huge financial mess to deal with. Despite this risk, 40% of students have admitted to providing their Social Security number online.

Credit Card Debt – The average college senior graduates with $4,100 of credit card debt and it goes without question that at least a portion of that debt is due to purchases made online. While you can find some great deals online, you will want to think twice before you key in your credit card information. Shopping through a questionable site can open you up to fraud. Plus, between shipping charges and possible interest payments, that deal may not be much of a deal after all.

What you can do to stay safe

While students face increased risks as they spend more and more time online, there is quite a bit you can do to help increase your security so that you and your finances stay safe:

Be choosy about what you share – Do not let yourself be lulled into a sense of trust and security with someone who you barely know in person, be careful about what you share and how you share that information.

Keep an eye on your computer – Keep your room locked and do not keep your computer unattended; make sure it is equipped with antivirus and spyware removal programs so your computer does not become infected, and leak your information to an unknown recipient.

Be careful with public networks – You do not know who else is sharing that network; if they have the right computer knowledge, they may be able to get private information off of your computer without ever coming in physical contact with your laptop, desktop or smartphone.

Regularly check your accounts – Keep a close eye on your bank accounts so you can report fraudulent activity the moment it happens.

(Additional Writing by Meghan)

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