Safety Tips for Teens

We know you love textPlus – we hear from you all the time saying so! We love you too, and that’s why we want you to have fun, but also to stay safe at all times. Here are some things you should know about how to remain safe on textPlus.

Your Age. You need to be at least 13 years old to use textPlus. When you sign up for textPlus, you’re going to be asked for your age. Please don’t lie about your age, either by saying you’re older or younger than you really are. We’ve built into textPlus special technologies that help protect our younger users based on their age. If you lie, those features can’t work for you.

Some of you, especially our younger users, may be worried about having your age displayed within your profile. So, we let you decide if you want to hide your age from public display under My Profile – Age Privacy.

Your Posts. textPlus isn’t that different from the real world. So don’t post anything to your profile that you wouldn’t want the world to know (like your home address). Also, don’t post anything that would make it easy for a stranger to find you, such as your favorite local spot to hang out. We know it’s fun to post pictures of yourself, but remember that pictures can also identify you if they contain certain details about you, like your school football team’s name on your shirt. So be careful when picking pictures.

Inappropriate Messaging. textPlus doesn’t allow any nudity or sexually explicit images in pictures, even if sent within a private message to a friend. Please don’t abuse our rules of the road or you will lose your textPlus privileges.

And remember, if you’re considering sending an inappropriate picture of yourself or a message of a sexual nature to a friend, imagine what might happen if this relationship were to turn sour, or if this person isn’t really a great friend. Your pictures and messages can easily be forwarded and re-forwarded. They might end up as a topic of conversation for an entire school or community, which ends up being embarrassing for you and your family. On top of this, if you’re under 18, sending nude pictures, even of yourself, can be illegal. Teens have been arrested for sexting - sending nude pictures of themselves to friends. So, all the more reason to follow our rules of the road.

Communities. textPlus is like regular old text, but better. Sure, you can use textPlus to send and receive messages with your friends using their phone numbers or textPlus usernames. But you can also use textPlus to create text groups for your friends or family, or enter communities built by our users.

Communities are either public or private groups of users, who typically join because the community name or topic interests them. A private community is one where only people invited to join by the community organizer can join. Anyone can join public communities. So, these are like public chat rooms for text. You can tell if a community is public if you’re allowed to join it. If you try to join a private community, you will be prompted that this community is private and that you must be invited to join.

Be sensitive to your safety in these communities. Public communities, for the most part, are made up of people you may not know. So, avoid sending messages or posting pictures in communities that identify you personally to community members. If you want to have a private conversation with a community member, message them directly by clicking on their picture and selecting “send message”. It makes sense that you shouldn’t send messages you only want seen by one person to a whole group.

Block User. Communities are a little bit like the lunch room at your school. You might hear some stuff that you don’t like. If you don’t like what someone is saying, we’ve built into textPlus a tool that lets you block that user. When you block a user, you will no longer see community posts from them, and they will not be able to message you at all. And to avoid conflicts, the blocked user doesn’t know they have been blocked by you. Think of it as a “talk to the hand” feature. We think the block user feature is a great way to resolve disputes quickly. Everyone can have opinions, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to them, right? To block a user, tap their picture, and select “block user”. If you ever change your mind, you can always unblock the user too.

Harassment. It’s one thing if what someone is saying in a community post or message bugs you. That’s what blocking a user is for. It’s another matter altogether if someone is harassing or threatening you with physical harm, especially if they seem to know who you are and where to find you.

Harassment, hate speech and other inappropriate content are not tolerated in textPlus. If you encounter harassment or similar inappropriate behavior, inform your parents, a trusted adult or the police, and report it to us. We’ve built into textPlus a report abuse tool that you can easily access to report harassment and other abuse. You can also send an email to abuse@textplus.com. We investigate these reports and take appropriate action expeditiously, such as suspending or terminating textPlus accounts and for serious matters, working with law enforcement to assist in the prevention of dangerous encounters.

Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is bullying or harassment that happens online or in text, and may be similar to what you might have experienced offline in schools, homes, or the community, but has the additional aspect of the Internet.

Cyberbullying can take the form of a message on email or IM or a social networking site from someone who is threatening to hurt you or beat you up, spreading hate-filled rumors about you. It could be a profile made by someone pretending to be you. Or, someone hacking into your profile and writing comments pretending they’re from you.

Cyberbullying occurs in many different places online, including instant messaging, social networking sites, email, and chat rooms. The most common place bullying occurs online is over instant messenger, but it also can occur via other new technologies. If you are being cyberbullied or threatened online in any way, there are things you can do to stop it:

  • Ignore the person. Sometimes the easiest thing to do is to ignore the person and go on about your business.
  • Block the person. If it is happening on Instant Messaging or some other place online that requires a ‘buddy list,’ you can block certain users based upon their username, or delete them if they are in your buddy list. You can also block emails that are coming from specific email addresses.
  • Log-off if the harassment is bothering you.
  • Change your information. If someone has phished your profile, change your password. If someone repeatedly sends you messages (like, ‘add me to your buddy list’ over and over), consider changing your username or email address.
  • If there is a profile that was created about you without you knowing, contact textPlus to have the profile or language taken down.
  • If you are upset about what is being said, talk to someone you trust. Don’t feel like you’re alone.
  • Many times, teens are able to take care of the cyberbullying on their own. But sometimes it gets out of hand, and it’s helpful to talk to an adult about what is going on. If you feel scared or overwhelmed, maybe even trapped, it’s definitely time to talk to an adult. If you don’t feel comfortable speaking with a parent, seek out other adults or authorities like a teacher, coach, school counselor, a youth group leader, or other adult family member such as an aunt or uncle.

Avoid Personal Encounters. Remember, people online aren’t always who they say they are. Be very careful about getting together with people you might “meet” using textPlus, unless you really know who they are. Talk to an adult first. If you’re comfortable meeting someone in person after speaking to an adult first, always do it somewhere public and bring along friends, a parent, or another trusted adult, perhaps an older sibling.

Permission. textPlus is both a utility and a new kind of social network. Many schools and many parents have rules about registering and using social networks, so be sure to check with them before registering for textPlus.

Don’t Text and Drive. Mobile devices are great for being in contact while you’re on the go, but shouldn’t be used when your full attention is required for other activities such as driving.

Lost or Stolen Devices. Given their portability, mobile phones and devices can be easily lost or stolen. If your login and password are saved on your mobile device anyone who may have possession of that device can access your textPlus account. If your device is lost or stolen, immediately contact us at support@textplus.com to change your password and call your carrier to deactivate the device.

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