Keeping Yourself Safe Online

Lots of people say that you should keep safe online, but what does being safe online actually mean?  What can you do to keep yourself safe online?

Below are some top tips for online safety, read them through and see how many you follow when working in the online world!  There are also some links to more tips if you have a particular problem that is bothering you.


Want Advice On Something To Do With E-safety?  Click On The Links In The Table Below Or Carry On Reading Below.

Want advice on using Mobile Phones and Tablets? Click here.
Want advice on Online Gaming? Click here. 
 Want advice on how and when to use Social Networks? Click here.
Want advice on how to keep safe when using E-mail? Click here. 
Want advice on Blogging And Commenting On Other Peoples' Blogs? Click here. 

So, why do you need to keep yourself safe online?  Unfortunately, there are many people in the real world who aren’t very nice.  These same people also exist on the Internet and they can do things that can upset, hurt or worry you.  There are also people who create things, such as computer viruses, which can cause a lot of harm to your computer, mobile or tablet.  Other people on the Internet may want to get your personal details so that they can try to sell you things or steal your money (particularly if you are an adult).  This all makes the Internet seem like a scary place, but it shouldn’t be!  The Internet is a fantastic place to learn, play games and talk to people you know in real life, as well as research things that interest you.  It is just important to know how to keep yourself safe from the people out there who aren’t as nice.

 

Like a football team has eleven players in its starting line up, here are our eleven top tips for online safety – remember, accept no substitutes for being safe online!

 

  1. Close the screen! Unfortunately, some people post things online that can be upsetting or make us feel worried.  If you are ever not sure about something you see online or if something you see makes you feel uncomfortable, always follow the golden rule… Close the screen (or blank the phone or tablet screen) and take the device to a trusted adult who can give you advice on what to do next.

  2. Talk to trusted adults about what you do online. Some adults know a lot about the online world and others haven’t spent as much time as you have exploring it.  However, they always like to know how you spend your time online and often they are full of great tips and advice on what you can do to protect yourself online.  Remember, a trusted adult is someone you know really well and can trust to help you to stay safe online, like a parent, carer or teacher.
  3. Only be friends with people online that you know well in real life. The Internet is a fantastic way to keep in touch with your friends.  However, not everyone will be who they say they are online.  There are some people online who can claim to be a boy or girl of your age, but may actually be pretending.  These people may want to do you harm.  So, it is important to only be friends with people online if you know them in real life.  This way you know the people you are friends with are who they say they are.
  4. Use safer search engines.  Sometimes, when you search for information or images online, you get results that you were not expecting to see.  Some of these things might be upsetting and make you feel uncomfortable.  Because of this, it is always best to use a search engine that is designed to provide safer search results.  These will help to protect you from things that you might not like to see.  However, even these aren’t always 100% accurate.  So, remember the number one rule!  If you see anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, close down the screen and tell a trusted adult.  To use The Discovery School’s list of Safe Search Engines, click here.
  5. If anything makes you feel uncomfortable online, think CEOPs.  CEOPs is a special online police department who do everything they can to keep you safe online.  They can look for people, like the ones discussed above, who pretend to be people they are not with the intention of doing you harm.  They can also help to shut down websites that are operating in an inappropriate way.  To make a report to CEOPs about something inappropriate you have seen online, you should first talk to a trusted adult about the problem.  If the trusted adult thinks it is an issue that they cannot resolve for you, they will sit with you and help you to make a report to CEOPs online.  By doing this, you will also be helping to protect other people from harm online – so you will be doing a good digital deed. But, you should only do so if you and your trusted adult agree that it is the right thing to do. To make a report to CEOPs, click here, but make sure your trusted adult is with you when you do.
  6. Keep your personal information private!  Personal information is information that is personal to you and can help people to identify who you are.  As we said earlier, there are some people online who aren’t very nice and may wish to do you harm.  Therefore, it is important not to let them know who you are.

    Examples of things you shouldn’t share online are:

    ·      Your full name
    ·      Your address
    ·      The town that you live in
    ·      The school that you go to
    ·      Specific names of clubs that you go to
    ·      Your favourite places to hang out
    ·      Your phone number
    ·      Your email address.

    Things that are okay to share online:
    ·      Your first name (although a made up username is usually even better)
    ·      Your favourite sports or games
    ·      Whether you have any pets or not.

    If you make sure you keep your information private then you don’t have to worry about people who may want to identify you as they won’t be able to tell who you are from what you put online.
  7. Another important tip for keeping your personal information private is to check your privacy settings on any websites that you have to register with.  Any website that you share information on, such as social networks, should have a privacy settings button.  Click on yours and make sure that all your settings are set to private or so that only your friends can see what you post online.  This way only people you want to see your information can see it.  If you are not sure where your privacy settings are on a particular website, ask a trusted adult for some help with it.
  8. Have a strong username and password.  Keeping your username and password safe can help to protect you online.  Some people may wish to access your online accounts to do you harm to ruin your things.  Therefore, it is important to have a strong username and password. So, what makes a strong username and password?  Well, a strong username is one that no one could use to work out who you are in real life.  So, for example it wouldn’t be a good idea to include your first name in your username, but it might be okay to use your hobby.  E.g.  Fran123 might not be a good idea, but Horselover123 would be suitable.  For a strong password, you should choose something that only you will know or remember and that includes numbers and some capital letters.  By using numbers and capital letters, it makes it harder for someone to guess and access your information.  It is also not a good idea to use something that lots of people know about you, e.g. your favourite hobby or band.  So, ‘horseriding’ might not make a good password if lots of people know you like horse riding.  But, ‘hR1Love’ might help you remember it but also make it very hard to guess.  Also, remember passwords are like toothbrushes – you should change them regularly and never share them with anyone else!
  9. Never meet someone that you only know online.  As we said earlier, there are some people online who pretend to be someone they are not.  They might do this for lots of different reasons, some of which might be because they want to do you harm or upset you.  Therefore, it is vital that you never meet someone in real life that you only know online.  They might not be the person you thought they were.
  10. Ignore and close ‘Pop-ups’.  Unfortunately, sometimes when you are surfing the web, strange boxes pop up with random messages.  These can seem a little strange and can sometime make you worry.  There is usually nothing to worry about you just need to close them in the same way that you would close a webpage.  It is not a good idea to click on them though.  Sometimes they can seem like they are offering amazing things.  They might say ‘You are a Winner – click here to claim your prize’.  However, if you haven’t entered a competition, there is no chance that you have won something!  It might actually take you to a web page you don’t want to go to or even download a dangerous virus to your computer.  So, it is always best to just close them down and ignore them.
  11. Never open junk mail or download attachments that you don’t recognise.  If you have an email account, then you have probably had one or two odd-looking emails or even seen emails in your ‘junk’ folder.  Most of these emails are harmless and are just adverts for someone trying to sell you something and so are not worth opening anyway.  However, there are sometimes emails that look like they are important (or even from one of your friends) that have strange names or attachments.  These emails are usually sent by someone who is trying to harm your computer.  They might contain viruses, or links to viruses, that can really damage your device.  People do this so they can try and steal personal information off of your device.  The people who send them make them look really inviting to open with things like ‘You have won…’ ‘Your friend wants to know…’ ‘I need your help…’ ‘You spent…’  You should never open an email like this and never download an attachment from someone if the person isn’t someone you know or they told you that they were going to send it to you.

Remember, although there are some people who aren’t very nice online, most people who use the Internet are just like you and want to have fun on it.  Stick to the eleven golden tips for e-safety and you should find that you can deal with almost any situation you find yourself in online.  However, if you are ever unsure, remember to talk to a trusted adult!

 

Below are some tips for if you find yourself in a specific situation and you don’t know how to deal with it.


Mobile Phones and Tablets

Mobile phones and tablets can be fantastic ways of engaging with the online world.  However, you can have online issues on them just the same as any other way you access the Internet.  Below we have a couple of top tips.

 

  1. Group messaging can be really fun but it can also give people access to other people’s phone numbers.  When creating a group message, always ask everyone permission from everyone that you want to join the group before you add them.  This way your friends will never be cross with you for letting other people see their phone number.

  2. Put a pass-code on your phone or tablet device.  Pass-codes are like mini-passwords.  They stop anyone who picks up your device from being able to instantly access your information or your apps.  Always set one on your phone or tablet and that way, if you leave it somewhere and someone else picks it up, they cannot access your information.

Online gaming

  1. Online gaming, either on your portable device or on a games console, can be really fun.  You get to play games against people from all over the world.  However, people online can be really mean and say things to you that aren’t very nice.  It is always best when playing games online to only speak to people that you know in real life. This way you can still have all the fun of online gaming but without having to worry about people saying mean things to you.  Also, if people do say mean things to you, remember lots of gaming website or consoles have a way you can report people being nasty and this can stop them from doing it again to someone else.
  2. You might feel that there are people that you play with regularly online and that you know really well.  However, if you haven’t met the person in real life, you don’t know whether they are who you think they are.  Never arrange to meet someone you only know from an online game.  It is always best to play online games with people you know in real life.

  3. Some people who play games online can be quite nasty and ruin other peoples’ games.  This can be really annoying and upsetting, if you have spent a lot of time making a game and someone comes along and ruins it.  It is always best to only play with people you are friends with in the real world as they are less likely to deliberately ruin your game.
  4. Most games have age-limits.  These can be found on the back of the game’s packaging or somewhere around the screen online.  You should only play games that are appropriate for your age group.  Some games have things in them that might make you feel upset or worried, so it is always best to only play games that say they are suitable for your age group.

Social Networks

As you get older, you may wish to join a social network.  Before doing so, it is always best to talk it through with a parent or carer.  They can be really fun places that you can share information with your friends on.  However, as with anywhere else on the Internet, there may be a few people on them who aren’t so nice and may upset you.  Therefore, it is important to read and follow the tips below when using a social network.

 

  1. Only be friends with people on a social network that you know in real life.  It can seem like really good fun to see how many friends you can get on a social network.  However, not everyone is always nice online or even who they say they are.  It is always best to only be friends on a social network with someone you know well in the real world.

  2. Never meet up with anyone you only know from the online world.  Sometime people aren’t who they say they are online.  Therefore, you should never arrange to meet someone that you only know from the Internet.

  3. Make sure your privacy settings are set to ‘only friends’ or ‘private’.  By doing this, only people you are friends with can comment on the things that you put online or see your comments and pictures.  Look for the privacy setting on your social network or ask a trusted adult how to do this.

  4. Sharing comments and commenting on things online.  If you write a comment on a social network then your friends can see it or comment on it (or even the world can do this if you haven’t made your profile private – see tip 3).  Therefore, it is important to make sure that what you write online is appropriate for others to see. Never write anything that may be hurtful or inappropriate to others as it may hurt their feelings.  Also, if you do write a comment online, be aware that other people can comment back and say things that aren’t very nice.  Sometimes you have to have a ‘thick-skin’ online and ignore nasty comments made by other people.  However, if nasty comments continue to be sent, make sure you tell a trusted adult about it and they can help you deal with the situation.

  5. Sharing photos online can seem like really good fun and you may want to have your best selfie as your profile picture, however, this might stop you from being safe online.  Having a profile picture that is actually an image of you can help people identify who you are.  This means that you may get people who you don’t want to be your friends online sending you friendship requests.  It is always best to have a profile picture that doesn’t show your real face (e.g. use a favourite pet or cartoon character instead).  Also, by sharing photographs of yourself online, you can put yourself at risk of people taking your photos, storing them on their computer and making unkind pictures out of them.  Some other people might make horrible comments about them.  It is always best to keep your private pictures to yourself or just share pictures of things that you don’t mind people commenting on.
  6. Every time you post something online or on a social network you leave a digital footprint.  This might be a comment that you make or a photograph that you post.  These ‘footprints’ can either be positive, through appropriate posts, or negative, through inappropriate posts.  A negative digital footprint can impact on your friendships and your ability to get a job later on in life.  Before you post anything online, always think ‘would my parents approve of this post?’. If the answer is ‘yes’, most of the time it is probably okay to post it.  If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘I’m not sure’ it is probably not a good idea to post it.  Make sure you leave a positive digital footprint wherever or whenever you go online.
  7. Age limits.  Most social networks have age limits on them that ask you to supply your date of birth before you can join.  These age limits are put in place to keep you safe.  They are usually to do with advertising and making sure that you do not get presented with adverts that are inappropriate for your age.  Always be honest when signing up to a social network and, if the age limit is older than you are now, be patient and wait until you are old enough to join them.
  8. Make sure you have a strong password to your social network account.  People can sometimes not be very nice and try to ‘hack’ your social network so they can post nasty things from your account or even access your pictures.  Always make sure you have a difficult password for people to guess and never share your password with anyone else – even people you think are your friends.

  9. Report abusive messages, comments or inappropriate things that you see online.  If you get abusive messages or comments or see inappropriate things on your social network, you should tell a trusted adult first to get advice on how to handle the situation.  However, you can also report the person who is being nasty or posting inappropriate things to either the social network themselves, or in serious cases, to CEOPs.  Doing this can help stop the person from posting nasty material again and upsetting you or someone else.  

E-mail

Email is a fantastic way to send instant messages to people all around the world.  It can also be used to send documents and pictures to people that might otherwise have to be sent in the post.  However, make sure you follow the tips below to keep your email account safe.

 

  1. Never open junk mail or download attachments that you don’t know exactly what they are.  If you have an email account, then you have probably had one or two odd-looking emails or even seen emails in your ‘junk’ folder.  Most of these emails are harmless and are just adverts for someone trying to sell you something and so are not worth opening anyway.  However, there are sometimes emails that look like they are important (or even from one of your friends) that have strange names or attachments.  These emails are usually sent by someone who is trying to harm your computer.  They might contain viruses, or links to viruses, that can really damage your device.  People do this so they can try and steal personal information off your device.  The people who send them make them look really inviting to open with things like ‘You have won…’ ‘Your friend wants to know…’ ‘I need your help…’ ‘You spent…’  You should never open an email like this and never download an attachment from someone if the person isn’t someone you know or they told you that they were going to send it to you.

  2. It is never a good idea to give out your email address to anyone you don’t know.  People may use your email address to send you things that might upset you or cause damage to your computer.  So, only give out your email address to people you know in real life.  Also, never give out your personal details via email, unless you have your parents’ permission to do so.

  3. Always make sure you have a strong password that is difficult for other people to guess.  Sometimes people who aren’t very nice may wish to use your email address to send things that aren’t very nice to other people or to get your personal information.   Make sure you always use a password that is difficult to guess.

Blogging and commenting on other peoples’ blogs

Blogging and commenting on other people’s online interactions has become a really popular thing to do.  It is a way that you can get people’s opinions on your work or ideas.  However, some people online can say some hurtful things when they comment on blogs so it is important to be prepared for this, if you decide to comment yourself.

 

  1. Always be polite and respectful to other people when commenting on their blog, vlog or pictures.  If you know it would upset you if someone made a nasty comment about your online work, make sure you only post nice things about other people’s work.

  2. Accept that there are some people out there who aren’t as nice as you are.  Unfortunately, online there are people who only go online to make nasty comments on other people’s work or comments.  These people are called ‘trolls’.  They set out to deliberately upset other people.  If someone is being nasty to you online, try to ignore it the first time but make sure you tell a trusted adult about it.  If they continue to send nasty messages or comments, report them to the website owner and discuss with your trusted adult whether you should report them to CEOPs.

We hope that this online guide has given you lots of ideas about how to keep yourself safe online.  Remember you can refer to it whenever you need some e-safety advice or you are unsure about something that has happened online.


If you want even more E-safety advice or to play some E-safety games, click on the links below for further information on how to keep yourself safe online.

A fantastic website filled with advice on how to keep yourself safe in all sorts of different situations you may find yourself in online.

http://www.kidsmart.org.uk/

An amazing website filled with E-safety tips that are specific to your age group.

https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/

E-safety advice and games from the BBC.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/topics/stay-safe

A good E-safety game from the BBC for children in Upper Key Stage 2.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/ks3/ict/history_impact_ict/esafety/activity/