The internet is an amazing place, opening up a wide variety of experiences and opportunities to learn, share, connect with friends and take part in online games. However there are concerns about the possible threats to children and young people’s safety that can exist online.
Threats can arise in a number of ways:
- You could access illegal or inappropriate sexual or violent material by accident. This material could involve adults or children.
- Predatory adults posing as children/young people could target children and young people for grooming, through chatrooms and messaging.
- In some cases children can be abused in real time, using webcams to provide material for paedophile news groups.
- Bullying and harassment can occur between children and young people through email and instant messaging.
Staying safe online is as important as keeping yourself safe in the real world.
Tips for staying safe online
To keep yourself safe online make sure you are aware of safety tips or rules like the following:
- Never tell anyone you meet on the internet your name, address, telephone numbers or any other information, such as information about your family, where you live or the school you go to.
- Do not send anyone your picture, credit card or bank details without checking with a responsible adult.
- Never give out your password to anyone, even your best friends.
- Do not stay in a chatroom if anyone says anything or shows you something that makes you feel uncomfortable or worried and tell a parent/carer if this happens.
- Always tell an adult if you receive a message that is scary, threatening or rude. Do not respond and log off.
- If you wish to meet someone you have met in cyberspace, ask a parent/carer’s permission and then do so only when they can be with you.
- Always be yourself and do not pretend to be anyone or anything you are not.
- Never open attachments to emails which come from people or sources you do not know. They may contain viruses which can damage your computer.
- Learn ‘netiquette’ – widely accepted rules of behaviour which include typing in CAPITAL LETTERS – this looks like you are shouting, so use asterisks for emphasis.
- Be aware that people online may not be what they seem – adults can pretend to be children with similar interests to yourself.
- Be polite when entering a chatroom, check out who’s talking and what they’re talking about before participating. Be careful not to use bad language – providers will terminate your account!
- Finally enjoy your time on the internet but do not forget about all the other things you could be doing: Sharing time with your family, reading a good book, playing outdoors with your friends or participating in sport.
These tips are not meant to scare you, but encourage you to take responsibility.
For more information from Barnardo’s on keeping yourself safe click here.
Cyber bullying is using the internet, email, online games or any digital technology to threaten, tease, upset or humiliate someone else.
Nobody has to go through online bullying alone. Telling someone you trust could help you report the cyber bullying and give you more confidence to deal with the situation.
Here are top ten tips if you are being bullied online:
- Tell an adult you trust if you are being cyber bullied
- Don’t respond or retaliate to bullying messages, it could make things worse
- Block users who send you nasty messages
- Save abusive emails or messages (or texts) you receive
- Make a note of dates and times you receive bullying messages, as well as details you have of the user’s ID and the URL.
- Don’t pass on any cyber bullying videos or messages. This is cyber bullying.
- If you are bullied repeatedly, change your user ID, or profile and use a name that doesn’t give any information away about you
- Visit bullying.co.uk – this is a website where trained counsellors can support you if you are being bullied, either by chatting online or by calling their free helpline. You can also find some top tips on how to stay safe.
- You can talk to someone at Child Line or get online safety advice.
- www.thinkuknow.co.uk is another very useful website for children and young people staying safe online.
Help someone you know is being bullied
Here’s how you can help if someone you know is being bullied: