Computers, iPads and mobile phones help you to share things, talk to friends and meet new people.
But they can also make it easier for people who might want to hurt you to get closer to you.
Abusive adults use the internet to find young people to target. They can learn a lot from a small amount of information.
When you use the internet you should remember that people who contact you may not be who they say they are. Anyone could say that they share your interests and are the same age but not everyone is who they say they are.
You should never arrange to meet on your own with anyone you’ve met only on the internet. If you do decide to meet someone then you should take an adult with you and arrange to meet in a busy public place.
Always use your real age when you are online. If you don’t, you might get adults contacting you.
If something happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable / threatened or you receive threatening or obscene message you should tell an adult who you trust. You can block the individual and report them to the site and/or CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre). You can do this directly or using the "Click CEOP" button if the website has one.
Never put pictures of yourself online and especially not pictures of you taking your clothes off. Tell an adult that you trust if someone asks you to do something you are uncomfortable with in front of a camera.
Be careful if you receive an email message from someone you don't know. It could contain a virus at the very least, which can mess up your computer.
Being safe – social networking
This includes sites like Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. These sites help you connect with friends using different things like blogs, profiles, photos and internal e-mail systems.
When you use these sites you should remember that these are public sites and that anyone could see them. You should:
- Consider using a nickname or your initials rather than your full name as you don’t want just anyone to know who you are.
- Consider using a drawing, graphic or photograph of something else (for example, a band you like) rather than your own photo. That way strangers won’t have access to a photo of you.
- Don’t share your password with anyone.
- Only accept friend requests from people you know.
- Learn how to use your privacy settings so that only your approved friends can see information about you and send you messages.
- Be careful what you put on your profile, especially with photos. It could potentially be viewed by anyone.
- Don’t post anything that you’d be embarrassed about your parents, teachers or future employer to see.
Being safe - Online Gaming
Online games allow you to chat and play with people you don’t know. Abusive adults know that a lot of young people use these gaming sites and sometimes pretend to be young people too.
When you play games online you should use a nickname rather than your real name and be careful not to give out information about yourself to anyone you don’t know including:
- Your name
- Where you go to school or college.
- Your e-mail address.
- Your phone number.
- Your photo.
Being safe - Chat Rooms
Chat rooms can be a good way to stay in touch with friends and to meet new people. But you should also remember that abusive adults may go on internet chat rooms and pretend to be young people. It’s easy to lie on the internet and you have no way of knowing if people are telling the truth about things (like their age).
Even if you see a photo or video, it could be of someone else or it could be faked. If you use chat rooms you should:
- Be careful not to share personal information like your real name, address and phone number.
- Find out how to block people and make sure that you block anyone that you don’t want to message you (they won’t know that you’ve done this).
- Delete any contacts that you don’t want to talk to any more.
- When someone takes indecent pictures of themselves and sends them via their mobile phone or some other form of technology, this is often called sexting.
- When you have taken these pictures and sent them to others you lose control of them and they might be seen by anyone including friends, family or future employers.
- Even if you delete the picture from your computer or mobile other people may already have downloaded it, copied it or forwarded it.
- Explicit pictures can attract abusive adults.
- You could be breaking the law if you are sent an indecent photo of another child or young person. Having an indecent picture of a child is a crime under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
If you are worried about something that has happened online or something you have seen, talk to an adult you trust.
For more information about staying safe online go to http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/.