Communicating online

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Communicating over the internet is convenient, especially to connect with other teens affected by cancer, but there are things you need to consider. Learn tips to keep you safe online.

Key points

  • You can connect with other teens who have gone through cancer treatment, through discussion boards, blogs, and online groups.
  • When communicating online, think about what you post, if your privacy is secure and remember to never post your address or personal information online.
  • If you need to meet someone in person that you met online, meet in a public space and never go to meet them alone.
  • If you are not sure if a website is reliable, ask a parent/caregiver or a member of your health-care team.

Why communicate over the internet?

The internet can be a good place to connect with other teens whose lives have been affected by cancer or another serious illness. There are a number of discussion boards, forums and groups where teens can share advice and support. It can be helpful to talk to other teens who are going through the same experience.

But before going online, consider the following tips to keep yourself safe.

  • Take time to think about what you post. Sharing very personal details online can cause problems later on. Remember, what goes on the internet stays on the internet.
  • Consider your privacy. Ask yourself who else can see what you’re writing. Is the site protected by a password? Is there a moderator who makes sure that only the right people can access the information? It can be difficult to keep your information completely private.
  • Never post your address, your telephone number or your full date of birth online. These can be used to identify you and can contribute to identity theft. Identity theft is a crime where someone else uses your information and pretends to be you on the internet.
  • Remember that not everyone is who they say they are.
  • Avoid meeting someone you chat to online in person. If you absolutely must meet in person, be sure to meet in a public place, and never go alone!
  • When in doubt, check! It’s a good idea to talk to an adult you trust about any online groups, discussion boards or forums you are using to communicate about cancer. They can help you figure out whether the site is trustworthy or not. If someone gives you new information about cancer, always check with your health-care team.

There are a number of websites where teens with cancer can support each other. Here are a few we recommend:

Cancer Support Community: MyLifeLine – a place for teens to connect, find information, support, and hope while dealing with cancer

StupidCancer – a site for older teens and young adults

TeenHelp – an international not-for-profit forum that gives anonymous advice and support to teens around the world

Last updated: September 3rd 2019