Staying safe online
Updated: Dec 15, 2021
The internet is amazing! It lets us talk and video call our friends and family all over the world, watch funny videos and cartoons, play video games, and find the answer to any question you can imagine! Think of all the things you wouldn’t be able to do if we didn’t have the internet!
The internet connects computers, phones, games consoles and much more all together. It means they can all connect and talk to one another without using wires. This is how we can talk to people no matter where they are in the world, cool right?
Using the internet can help us meet and talk to loads of wonderful people, but not everyone on the internet is nice or honest. Some people on the internet, like trolls and bullies (people who put upsetting or unkind messages and comments online) or criminals (people who break the law using computers to help them) use the internet in a negative way. These people send unkind comments or try to access your computer to take your details (like your address) or your money. There is also another kind of person we need to be careful of when using the internet. Sometimes these people pretend to be someone else. They pretend to be someone your age online so they can become friends with you and find out your information. This could be either to get money or to try and get you to meet up with them. We must not give out money or meet up with anyone on the internet that we do not know or have not met in person before.
We know some of this might sound scary, but as long as you follow our steps below, you have nothing to worry about!
1. Make sure your computer and phone are protected!
You might need an adult to help you with this part. Computers, tablets and phones do updates every few weeks or months to make sure they can protect themselves from criminals who try to access them. This means we need to make sure that they are up to date before we use them. You can also have an adult make sure that your phone, tablet or computer is ‘backed-up’. This means that all of the pictures, videos and information you have on your phone is also saved somewhere else, in case your phone gets broken or stolen, so you don’t lose it all. (Make sure you have a case for your phone or tablet too!)
2. Make sure your accounts are secure!
Secure means that no one can get into it or see your personal details. An account is any profile you have, like Facebook, TikTok, YouTube or your own phone account. All of these accounts have your personal information such as where you live and your phone number and enable posts and messages to be sent from your account. If your account is not secure, then people may be able to access your account, see your personal details or send posts/messages from your account. Some social media accounts or gaming accounts are connected to a bank account, meaning people might be able to access your money.
3. Don’t post information about yourself
Of course you can post online and on social media, but there are some things you shouldn’t post. These are things like where you live, what school you go to, or the date and time of places you are going. It makes it easy for people to find you! Especially if you or your friends/family tag you in a post with the location checked in. You should also be careful when posting photos. Be careful of what else is in your photos. Are there things that show where you live? Or your details? Or places you are going?
4. Only add people that you know
It is fine to add your friends and family online! But you shouldn’t add people you don’t know, even if you have mutual friends. Your friends might not know them either!
5. Be careful
When you are using the internet, remember to be careful and follow the steps we told you above. Make sure you take time to stop, think and reflect on how you are using the internet. Once you post something, it is out there for everyone to see. When you get a job when you are older, they might check what you have posted online, including when you were young.
6. Have fun!
We know after reading all of this, it might seem scary, but you don’t need to be scared. The internet can be great fun and can teach us so much! We can enjoy the internet and all of the amazing things we can do on it, as long as we use it carefully!
What can you do if something or someone on the internet upsets you or makes you worry?
· Tell someone
You can tell your parents/guardians, family, or a teacher. They can help to make you feel better and help you understand what you should do next.
· Report the person
Most social media sites or apps allow you to report the person that is upsetting you. It is normally very easy and the person won’t know that you have reported them. The person and their behaviour will be looked at by someone from the website or app and they will let you know what happens next. Sometimes, reporting doesn’t work, so if it doesn’t, follow the next step below.
· Block the person
Most social media sites and apps also allow you to block a person. You should be able to do this by clicking on their profile. Blocking someone means that they will not be able to see your account or posts and they will not be able to contact you.
· Further steps
If someone continues to upset you and you can’t get them to stop, or if someone is messaging you and it makes you uncomfortable and you don’t feel safe, you may need to contact the police. You can get an adult to help you do this if you have tried all of the above steps and they have not worked.
Here is a list of places you can go to learn more!