Keep it Private – don’t post anything on a social networking site that identifies your real name, address, phone number, school etc. as this will enable a stranger to contact you in real life.
Be careful you don’t identify your friends too.
- Never upload anything that might embarrass you at a later date. Things you post on the Internet stay there and can come back and cause problems for you later on, for instance, when you go for an interview for college or university or apply for a job. If you’re happy for the world to see the photo or comment, hit send. If you’re not, don’t upload it!!! Once you’ve hit send, you have lost control of that image or comment forever.
- With today’s technology, many of us have a camera available at all times. Never feel pressurised into taking pictures of yourself that you wouldn’t want others to see. Always trust your gut instinct over this. As before, once you hit send, you have lost control over that image and this can cause immense anxiety and stress.
- If you ever use a shared computer, whether it be at home, at school, a library or Internet café, never forget to log off once you have finished your session or when you close the browser. If you don’t, the next user may be able to access the sites you have been using under your name.
- Many sites enable you to ‘check in’ or post your location each time you post a status update. Whilst this can let your friends know where you are, places you’re visiting and things you might be doing, it can also mean that people you don’t know can also view this information – especially if your profile is public. Go into the ‘Settings’ menu of the social networking site or app, scroll to the ‘Security and Privacy’ section and turn off or uncheck the ‘location’ box.
Keep yourself safe
- If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or afraid online, you need to tell someone immediately. If someone suggests meeting up with you in real life, again, tell someone immediately. This is a huge concern, especially if they have suggested you keep it a secret. No matter how much a person tells you about themselves, if you don’t know them really well in the ‘real world, they are still a stranger and may not be telling you the truth.
- There have been a number of cases of adults pretending to be young people online and trying to engage other young people in inappropriate activities. This is called ‘Grooming’ and is a criminal offence. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) investigate cases of grooming on the Internet and sex abuse and incidents can be reported by clicking the red button on the top right hand corner of their website.
- Don’t get into an argument or post offensive, bullying or abusive material online. Never post anything which promotes physical harm or make threats to anyone. Don’t spread rumours or make up false information about a person and don’t encourage others to harass someone. It is defamatory if you say untrue things about a person which can give them a bad reputation and it can also be seen as harassment.
- You are not allowed to upload a picture or video of anyone without their permission. Never set up a social networking site in someone else’s name or upload false information about them.
Of course, all sites have a responsibility to keep their users safe and to ensure that all reports of cyber-bullying and abuse are dealt with effectively, however, we, as users of such sites, also have a responsibility to make sure we are using them in a safe, respectful and appropriate manner.