Staying safe online

When you're online it's important to stay safe and make sure you don't share things that could put you in danger. This advice will help you stay safe online.

Ways of keeping safe online

The internet is a great way to connect with your friends and learn new things. But it's also important to stay safe. 

There are a few ways you can help make sure you're not in danger when you use the internet. 

Top 3 tips for keeping safe online:

  1. Be careful what you share
    If you wouldn't want your teachers or parents to see it, it's probably best not to post it. Because once it's online, it's out of your control
  2. Don't meet people you don't know
    Even if you get on with them online, you never know who they really are
  3. Use a complex password
    It should be hard for other people to guess your password and it's a good idea to change it regularly.

Keeping your device safe

Use anti-virus software
You can get anti-virus software for mobiles as well as tablets, laptops and PCs. Make sure that you keep it updated.

Check a website is secure
Before entering private information such as passwords or payment details, look for the padlock symbol after the web address or 'https' in front of the web address in your browser.

Think before you click
If you receive an email from a stranger, think before clicking on a link or an attachment - it could contain a virus.

Cover your webcam
If you're not using your webcam:

  • unplug it
  • cover the lens
  • point it at a blank wall
  • turn off your device when you're not using it.

Check your privacy settings
Check the settings on your apps and devices regularly to see what’s being shared. Switch off location sharing and set your social media accounts to private. Don’t add people unless you know who they are and block anyone you don’t want seeing your posts.

Check what’s saved on your device
Smart devices can store a lot of information about you, including passwords, apps and photos. When you let someone use a device remember that they might be able to see a lot of that information.

Only share your device with someone you trust, and make sure it’s got a strong password when you’re not using it.

Online communities

Online communities can be great for getting help with lots of different things. But sometimes it’s hard to know if an online community is making things better or worse.

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 life – even if you don’t want that to happen. It can also trigger thoughts and emotions. For example, looking at a ‘pro-ana’ website might make people think they are overweight (even if they're 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 making things worse?” If you’re part of an online community that is negative or harmful, it is okay to leave. You have control over the websites you visit. Don’t feel guilty about going to a more positive community instead. You could try our message boards, where young people talk about their experiences and support each other with what they’re going through.

getting help with online  bullying

You may come across things that are upsetting or shocking online. Or people who want to bully you online or treat you badly.

This could include someone:

  • saying nasty things or harassing you
  • posting videos of bullying
  • sending abusive or threatening messages
  • sharing personal or embarrassing information.

It can be difficult to know how to respond when someone bullies you online. But there are things you can do.

3 things to remember if you’re being bullied online

  1. report or block the person
  2. don’t reply to nasty messages
  3. talk to someone about it.

Watch: how to spot the signs of online grooming and what to do if you're worried