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The Net Experience This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Recently my family purchased a Macintosh computer and hitched a ride on the information highway. I was surprised how easy it was. Our computer came with most of the what we needed to connect to the online service. Once we connected with America Online, a whole new world opened up. I am amazed at the possibility to chat with people in Washington, Virginia, Florida, and every other state and the idea that at the same moment you are sitting at your computer chatting, hundreds of other people are too. It is not like a telephone service, because you can do so much more than chat. You can get up-to-the-minute information with a touch of a few keys and the drag of a mouse.

Unfortunately, not all my encounters with the Online service have been pleasant. As newcomers to the experience, my family was taken advantage of by computer thieves, known as hackers. Hackers are computer users who can infiltrate another person's account and find personal information about the user or use the other's monthly time frivolously and without permission.

When we had problems logging on, we called the America Online Service help line and they informed us that almost all of our monthly time had been stolen by hackers. The hacker had stolen five hours, but luckily we were given it back. The hacker had simply sent us a message in an official-looking window that told us our password was unauthorized, so we had to type it in for a confirmation. We typed in our password and immediately the hacker had our password and the key to our account. With our password, s/he could log on to our account and steal time, which s/he did. We assumed that the message was official so we didn't think twice about giving our password. When we got the message, we had already logged on, and if our password had been incorrect we wouldn't have been let on. But that didn't occur to us until after the damage was done. The help line let us change our password so the hacker could not steal more of our time.

The official we talked to urged us to warn others of suspicious messages that people receive when they're online. I hope that my family's misfortune will help warn others. I still enjoy using the net but now I am a little more computer-wise. Please be careful in this new and exciting world of the Online experience, and I will see you on

the net! u


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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