Keeping Safe Online

Keeping Safe Online

Keeping Safe Online


The internet can be great. There are so many useful things online as well as social media that lets you stay in touch with friends. You probably can’t imagine life without the internet. But the internet can cause problems too.

Because anyone can use it you need to be very careful about what information you share online and who you talk to. You don’t know who might find your picture or send you a message. Sometimes something that seems like a funny joke to you and your friends can be misunderstood. It could have a negative impact on you long after you post about it online.

When you go online you leave what are called digital footprints. This means that there are tracks of your activity on the internet. If someone goes to Google and types your name in, what will come up?

Remember that even if you delete a post, it can still be online somewhere else. Someone might have shared it elsewhere. It could have been copied by someone and reposted. Or someone may have taken a screenshot or photo of it. Once you put something online you can’t always keep control of it.

Before you share anything online or any social network there are a few things you should consider:

Would you be happy for what you’ve shared to appear somewhere else public, like a billboard? If the answer is no, you shouldn’t put it online.

What does the post say about you? If someone who doesn’t know you came across your post what would they think of you? What would you think of someone you didn’t know if they posted what you were about to share? Although you might not be thinking too far in the future now you need to remember that things on the internet don’t go away. Potential employers and the universities you apply to may search for information about you online. Is this too much information? Could what you’re about to share give someone personal information about you that they could use to bully you?

You also need to think about the things you may see while you are online. Sometimes you can come across something that upsets you or makes you feel scared. It’s normal to feel like this sometimes. If you open a web page that you don’t want to look at, close it straight away.

If you’ve seen something that has really upset you talk to an adult you trust. Tell your parents or a teacher if you are worried about something you’ve seen online.

Remember that not everything you see or read online is true. With modern technology it is very easy for people to fake things. Photos and videos can be altered. If you’re not sure about something you’ve read or seen, ask an adult you trust.

I want to share things on social media with my friends but how can I stop my posts appearing publicly?

Start by looking at the privacy settings on whatever social network, app or website you’re using to share things with your friends. If you have to sign up for an account you will have access to some privacy settings. This can allow you to control more closely who can see what you’re sharing.

Always remember that privacy settings aren’t foolproof. There is always a chance that anything you share online could become public.

That’s why it’s a good idea to only add people you know and trust in the real world to your social networks. It’s also sensible to learn how to remove posts, in case you post something and regret it later.

I don’t want anyone to know what I’ve been looking at online, how can I hide my browsing history?

Most websites use things called cookies that store information about where you’ve been online. Browsers – like Internet Explorer, Firefox and Google Chrome – will also save your browsing history automatically.

If you are looking at sensitive information, like the Childline website, and don’t want someone to know there are a few things you need to do. Start by going to the menu for the browser settings. From here you should be able to delete your browsing history as well as all cookies.

You could also use an internet browser in private mode. This means it won’t store any information about what you’ve looked at or any cookies for the session that you’re online. Even if you’ve been using the private mode make sure you close all your browser windows when you log off your computer.

Is it ok for me to watch online porn?

It’s natural to be interested in sex, porn and nudity when you’re growing up. You might want to watch online porn to learn more about sex. It’s not illegal to watch most types of porn but there are some things you should remember.

Porn is not reality. It’s a fantasy that’s created for adults. That means watching too much porn can make you think negatively about sex and relationships in real life. You should never be forced to watch porn by anyone.

There are some kinds of porn that are illegal. Violent porn, degrading porn or any porn featuring children is illegal.

Watching pornography can make you feel a lot of different things. You may feel excited or aroused when watching porn. You might feel ashamed that you’ve watched it. Or you may feel disgusted at yourself if you watched it and enjoyed it. You might start worrying about your body and comparing it to what you’ve seen. It can be confusing if you have mixed feelings.

Always remember that porn isn’t real life. The actors will be wearing makeup and many will have had cosmetic surgery. You shouldn’t compare your body to theirs. If you feel bad about watching porn do something positive instead. You could focus on your hobbies or something else to distract you. If you watched porn once and didn’t enjoy it then delete any porn you have on your computer or mobile phone.

How can I stay secure online?

Personal information, like your date of birth, phone number and address, can all be found online. This information can be very valuable to criminals so you need to keep it safe. There are a few things you can do.

Make sure any passwords you use are secure. Don’t share your passwords with anyone, even your best friend. You should have a different password for every site you use. It should be a mix of letters, numbers and symbols.

When you are sent a link in an email don’t click on it unless you know the person who sent it and trust them. Even if the email has come from someone in your address book be careful. Email accounts can be hacked and used to send links containing viruses out to other people. If you’re not sure about a URL you have been sent don’t click on it.

I’m being bullied online. What can I do?

Being bullied online is very upsetting. It can feel like you can’t escape from the bullies. If you are a victim of cyberbullying there are a few things you can do.

Never reply to any of the messages a bully sends you. You should keep them so you can show someone what is going on. But otherwise you should ignore them. Replying can encourage them to send you more messages.

If someone posts something nasty about you on social media you can report the post and ask for it to be taken down. You can also block the bullies from your social media accounts. That means they won’t be able to message you or see anything you share.

You should also tell an adult you trust what’s happening. It can be really upsetting if you’re experiencing online bullying and you should get support to deal with it.

If you see bullying on social media you should report it even if it’s not aimed at you. Don’t like or share any posts that show other people being bullied, hurt or upset.

I’ve made friends with someone online. Should I meet them?

If you’ve been talking to someone online who you don’t know in the real world you need to be very careful. You might have started talking to them through an online game or on a forum. Remember that on the internet not everyone is who they say they are.

Sometimes older people may say they are the same age as you. They will try to form a relationship with you online so that you will go and meet them. This is called online grooming and is illegal.

Take precautions if you decide you are going to meet someone you’ve been talking to online. Make sure the meeting is arranged for a public place, like a cafe. Don’t go alone. Take a friend with you or one of your parents or an older sibling. Tell people where you are going and who you are going to meet. Tell them what time you will be home. Always take a mobile phone that has lots of battery and credit on it.

My boyfriend/girlfriend is putting pressure on me to send them a naked photo. What should I do?

You should never feel under pressure to send a naked photo of yourself to anyone. Sending naked or semi-naked pictures of yourself is known as sexting. Anyone who has a naked or partially naked picture of someone under 18 on their phone or computer is breaking the law.

This can be classed as child abuse and could mean that person goes to court and gets a criminal record for sexual offences. It is also illegal for you to share a sexual image of yourself with anyone else. If you are in a healthy relationship with someone the same age as you the police can decide not to take things further but it’s best to avoid sexting.

If someone is putting pressure on you to send them a sexual photo you should say no. If they keep asking you could delete their number or block them. Childline has also created an app called Zipit that will give you some comebacks to help deal with flirty messages.

If you feel like things are getting out of control then you should talk to someone. Tell an adult you trust what’s been happening. You should never feel guilty for saying no.

Did you know?

-70% of 12 to 15 year olds have a social media profile

-1 in 4 young people have seen racist or hate messages online

-1 in 3 children have experienced cyberbullying


Help & Support

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