Your username for a dating or social networking website should convey your personality -- within limits. The general principles of Internet safety, such as withholding personal details from someone you don’t know, should apply to your username in addition to the content of your messages. Guard your private details while still hinting at your character to attract like-minded messaging buddies.
Your username should not contain any words or strings of numbers that could identify you. You should not fashion a username out of your last name or birth year, suggests the New York Public Library article “Internet Safety Tips for Children and Teens.” At some point, you may receive messages or “friend requests” from a stranger who, while appearing innocent enough from profile details, is presenting a false image and poses a danger. For the same reason that you should never agree to meet a person you don’t know, you should not offer would-be predators any information that identifies you. While “Smith1996” isn’t a good idea, a username based on a concept that’s meaningful to you – “Liberty” or “FairnessForAll” – would work.
Words to Remember
Another practical consideration when it comes to finding usernames is how well you can remember the chosen string of letters, numbers and perhaps symbols. While the “autocomplete” feature on some browsers will save username and password data, that only helps on your home computer, as Scott Spanbauer of PCWorld points out in “Internet Tips: Can You Pass the PC World Password Safety Test?” Even if you are positive you’ll be able to recall your username next month, many people find it helpful to log their usernames and passwords for various accounts in a notebook that is kept in a private, secure place at home. A username doesn’t have to be boring – “ComputerGirl123” – to be simple enough to recall. Do you have your favorite passage from “To Kill a Mockingbird” bookmarked? If so, “HarperFan” followed by the bookmarked page number might work.
Forget the False
The Internet can be an attractive place for those who wish to be someone else. This loosening of self-restraint isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can encourage some surfers to use language and convey shocking messages that they wouldn’t face-to-face, as discussed by Rider University psychology professor John Suler in a CyberPsychology & Behavior report. Check your preferred username to make sure you don’t convey a personality trait or intention that isn’t you in the real world. Avoid suggestive usernames, those that contain swear words for shock value and anything that has a malicious tone. To impress and get attention without shocking, highlight some of your skills in your username – “ImpressionistPicassoII” or “CenterHoopStar.”
All About You
Your username doesn’t have to be dull in order to be safe. It should let the real you shine through. Think about your main interests. If you are a lover of literature, you can craft a name based on the phrase “Bookworm” and a series of numbers that, while easy to remember, don’t coincide with your identifying details. Are you known among friends for your absurd sense of humor? “ClownWithoutACause” could highlight this important trait of yours without stepping outside the bounds of Internet safety.
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