Staying safe online

It’s not always easy to know what’s safe online and what’s not. Our advice can help you to keep safe and to know what to do when things go wrong.

What are the risks?

There are lots of fun and interesting things you can do on the internet. And it can be a great way to stay in touch with friends. But it’s important to understand how to stay safe online.

Sometimes people will try to trick you into clicking dangerous links or sharing things about yourself. Or something you’ve shared might be used to bully or frighten you.

5 ways to get support if things go wrong

  1. Talk to someone you trust like an adult, or you can always talk to a Childline counsellor
  2. Report bullying and abuse directly to the website or app
  3. Delete things you’ve shared that you’re worried about,or find ways to hide them
  4. Tell the police by making a report to CEOP if someone is threatening or blackmailing you
  5. Plan for the future and change your privacy settings so it doesn’t happen again

Tips to stay safe online

There are lots of things you can do to keep yourself safe online.

  • Think before you post
    Don’t upload or share anything you wouldn’t want your parents, carers, teachers or future employers seeing. Once you post something, you lose control of it, especially if someone else screenshots or shares it.
  • Don’t share personal details
    Keep things like your address, phone number, full name, school and date of birth private, and check what people can see in your privacy settings. Remember that people can use small clues like a school logo in a photo to find out a lot about you.
  • Watch out for phishing and scams
    Phishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them information, like your password. Someone might also try to trick you by saying they can make you famous or that they’re from a talent agency. Never click links from emails or messages that ask you to log in or share your details, even if you think they might be genuine. If you’re asked to log into a website, go to the app or site directly instead.
  • Think about who you’re talking to
    There are lots of ways that people try to trick you into trusting them online. Even if you like and trust someone you’ve met online, never share personal information with them like your address, full name, or where you go to school. Find out more about grooming.
  • Never give out your password
    You should never give out your password or log-in information. Make sure you pick strong, easy to remember passwords.
  • Cover your webcam
    Some viruses will let someone access your webcam without you knowing, so make sure you cover your webcam whenever you’re not using it.

Keeping your information secure

Having your social media account hacked or finding out someone has stolen your data can be scary and upsetting. But there are easy steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

How to spot fake news

The news you see online or on social media isn’t always going to be accurate. And it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake.

Some websites will report fake news or things that aren’t completely true. They might do it because they want to scare you or make you do something. Or because they make money from people going to their site.

Fake news can look real, but there are ways to help you spot it.

  • Check the source
    Check the name of the website and its web address to see if it looks real. Some sites will try to look like other websites so you think they’re genuine.
  • Look for evidence
    Find out whether it’s being reported on other sites that you know and trust. If it’s only being reported on websites you’ve never heard of then it might not be true.
  • Don’t decide straight away
    Sometimes headlines or stories are designed to scare or interest you. Read what’s in the article carefully, ask yourself whether it seems true and why they’re saying it.
  • Ask someone you trust
    Try asking an adult you trust to see what they think. If you’re worried about something you’ve seen online, you can always talk to a Childline counsellor.