This article was written by a young person from Wigan.
There are plenty of different ways to chat with your friends and play games on the internet. Online gaming, chat rooms, instant messaging, social networking sites, emailing and even downloading are what most of us use the internet for.
But some young people have had some bad experiences because of how they have used these sites and because some people who use the internet may not be very nice people!
Top 10 tips
- Don't reveal too much information about yourself to somebody new you are talking to. Don’t tell them your real name, address, mobile number or school
- It’s fine not to use your real name in forums, but be aware that other people may also not be using their real name. Many people use forums to try and be somebody they are not, so that you become their friend. Be aware of this and NEVER pretend to be somebody you are not even if you choose a different forum name
- If you can post a display picture on the site you are using, never put a picture of yourself up, maybe use a picture of your favourite singer, actor or character. There are many people online who use your picture to pretend to be you or somebody else. Be aware that if you use a webcam, anything you do over a webcam can be recorded and passed on to thousands of people. If someone you don’t know in the real world asks you to use a webcam, say no. FACT -When you post a picture on sites such as Instagram, the site then own the rights to your picture, and can use it in any way they want to!
- Always put your real age on social networking sites, as people much older than you might be chatting to someone they don’t know is much younger or older than them
- Do not put your mobile number on social networking sites
- It’s best not to arrange to meet somebody you’ve met through messaging or networking sites. They may not be who they say they are. If you do choose to meet someone you’ve met online, tell an adult and ask them to go with you and arrange to meet in a public space
- If someone you don’t know (or don’t want to be friends with) approaches you on social media, ignore them, you don’t have to accept every friend request. Block and even report them if they carry on trying to get in touch with you
- Make sure your privacy settings on any social networking site are always set correctly or anybody will be able to see the things you are posting like pictures and statuses
- Be aware when opening emails or downloading songs/videos that they can be filled with viruses that can harm your computer and cause it to stop working. Always use safe sites.
What if I see something that upsets me?
If something is upsetting you whilst you are online, or makes you feel uncomfortable, tell a trusted adult who can help you to report it.
Make a note of everything that’s happened and show them. Don’t delete offensive messages straight away as these can be used to track down whoever is making you feel uncomfortable.
Here’s what local young people had to say about online safety:
"A few of my friends have been bullied on Facebook."
"Someone was talking to me online pretending to be a girl but it turned out it was a man!"
"Someone hacked into my Facebook and put a rude picture on it."
"I go on the Internet all the time and I always feel safe."
"You should feel safe if you have proper virus protection and common sense."
"There have been a couple of times when I wasn’t sure I felt safe online so I reported it."