Top tips for staying safe online

Top tips for staying safe onlineThe internet and social media are great ways to find things out and connect with people. Look after yourself online with these handy hints.

Think before you post

Before you post, take a step back. Does it pass the teacher test? If it’s not something you’d want your parents or teachers to see, don’t post. Once it’s online, it’s out of your control.

Even if your post seems harmless, think about how it could look. It’s much easier to take things the wrong way on a screen, than it is face-to-face. What does it say about you? Stuff online has a habit of sticking around and getting passed on. What’s funny right now can soon seem the opposite (and what about in three or five years’ time?). And that comment or photo meant just for your friend can look very different if it goes viral…

Be kind and positive and remember you don’t have to respond. Rather than get into an argument on social media, it’s much easier to try and work things out in person. Always speak to a trusted adult if there’s something you’re not comfortable about or contact a helpline.

Get tough with your password and settings

Choose a password that is hard to guess – try using a mix of letters and numbers. It’s a good idea to change your password regularly. Use different passwords for different sites and keep your password to yourself! This can help prevent other people hacking into your accounts.

Don’t give out personal information such as your address, phone number or any other details which could make it easy to identify you.

Keep your settings private to limit who can see your pages. But remember, people you don’t know will be able see information you share with others through their pages, so nothing you put online is ever really private.

See Safer Internet’s useful list of safety features on social networks.

Don’t meet people you don’t know

Never arrange to meet someone you’ve met online. Even if you see them a friend, they are still a stranger. And always tell a trusted adult if someone online asks to meet you.

One of the easiest ways to stay safe is to see the online world as a real person you don’t know. Would you give a stranger in the street an embarrassing photo of yourself? Tell them where you live? Say unkind things? Or agree to meet them?

If it’s not something you would do in real life, don’t do it online.

Get help

If there’s something you are not happy about or which makes you uncomfortable, the best thing to do is to speak to a parent, teacher or other trusted adult.

See more about online and mobile safety on Childline or call their free helpline to speak to someone.

Find out more

Check out the BBC’s Own It campaign for more tips on dealing with digital dilemmas.