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Staying safe online

The internet is a great way to connect with your friends and learn new things. It's also important to stay safe and make sure you don't share things that could put you in danger. If you're worried about how much of your life is online you can take steps to be safer. Whatever your worry, ChildLine can help.

Top internet safety tips from young people

Protect your identityBe careful what you share online
When you choose a profile picture for a social networking website like Facebook or Twitter, avoid photos that could give strangers clues about where you live. Check your privacy settings regularly. Think about what should be shared in public and what shouldn't.
                    Learn about how you can take care of your digital footprints.  

Think before you post

Think before you post
Don’t upload or share anything you wouldn’t want your parents, teachers or friends seeing. Once you press send, it is no longer private. Find out more about sexting and staying in control.

Keep your passwords private

  • Never share or reveal your passwords
    Use strong passwords that are hard for others to guess, using a a mix of letters and numbers. Keep passwords to yourself and and change them regularly.

Be careful who you chat toBe careful who you chat to
If somebody you don’t know adds you as a friend, ignore them and delete their request. Don’t share personal information like your address or phone number with somebody you don't know. Learn about the signs that someone abusive is grooming you online.

More online safety tips

  • Use anti-virus software and make sure that you keep it updated.
  • Check a website is secure before entering private information such as passwords or payment details - a padlock symbol or https should appear in front or after the web address in your browser.
  • If you receive an email from a stranger, think before clicking on a link or an attachment - it could contain a virus.
  • Unplug your webcam, cover the lens or point it at a blank wall when not in use.
  • Use privacy settings to control who sees your information.
  • Don't meet up with people you've met online - not everyone is who they say they are.
  • Don't post anything cruel, nasty or offensive, even if you're angry. You never know how it'll affect someone and you can't take it back.
  • If anything makes you feel upset, 
    scared or uncomfortable, tell a trusted adult such as a parent, teacher or ChildLine (0800 1111). It helps to talk
    Read more about online safety

Online communities

    Talking to similar people through an online community is a great way to get help from others. But sometimes it’s hard to know if an online community is making things better or worse. If you don’t feel comfortable with anything on a website or community, then it’s okay to leave. It’s important to remember that you have control over which websites you visit.

    Sometimes people go on websites which promote anorexia, bulimia or self-harm. This could be because they feel people in their life don’t understand what they’re going through.

    However, harmful online communities can change the way you see real life – even if you don’t want that to happen. It can also be triggering. For example, looking at a ‘pro-ana’ website might make people think they are overweight (even if they are a good, healthy weight) and may make them want to try to eat less.

    Ask yourself: “is a community really trying to help me or is it trying to make things worse?” If you’re part of an online community that is negative or harmful, it is okay to leave. Don’t feel guilty about going to a more positive community instead. You could try the ChildLine message board community. This is a place where young people talk about their experiences and support each other with what they’re going through.

    Sometimes young people who use online communities to get help with self-harm, depression or eating disorders may experience bullying. Try not to respond to people who post negative things about what you’re going through. Read more about stopping online bullying.

Other sites that can help

How to stay safe online
Think U Know?

CEOP is here to help young people report somebody
CEOP Reporting site

Information on webcam and online safety

You & Co has advice about online bullying and how to report this.
You & Co

Worried about online bullying or staying safe?

Get help and support from other young people on the ChildLine message boards

Go to the message boards

Anything missing?

Is there anything else about online safety that you'd like to see added to this page?

Staying safe online 


We want to make sure everyone can access the information provided on this site

We've put together a few tips and help for you. Please send us a message if you can't find what you're looking for. Or you have a suggestion of something we could include.

Using the keyboard instead of the mouse.
As well as using the tab key to navigate through the screen, the ChildLine website has special access keys:

Alt+S = skip navigation
Alt+1 = home
Alt+0 = accessibility information.

Is the text size too large or too small?
You can change your text settings through your browser options:

In Internet Explorer, go to View > Text size and select your desired text size setting (eg, larger, smaller).

In Firefox, go to View > Text size and increase/decrease using Ctrl and + or -

If you have a scroll wheel on your mouse, you can hold down Ctrl and scroll back or forth to increase or decrease the font size in both IE and Firefox.

Changing your computer screen settings
To change the size of the image shown on your screen on a PC running Windows 95 and upwards, go to Start > Settings > Control Panel > Display > Settings and change the desktop area by using the sliding bar.

On an Apple Mac, you can use the Monitor & Sound Control Panel to change the resolution.

Having difficulty with your keyboard or mouse?
You can fine-tune your mouse and keyboard settings under Start > Settings > Control Panel > Accessibility in Windows 95/98/NT/2000 and XP.

Skipping navigation for talking browsers and screen readers
For speech browsers, you can press Alt and S followed by Enter to skip navigation on our pages.

The site is W3C level A compliant.




This page contains help and advice.  If you need to contact ChildLine please go to the Talk to us page

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