Checking-in, social networking and using mobile devices are a part of your everyday life.
Being well informed about the activities you are involved in online can help you avoid having to deal with issues like unwanted contact, cyberbullying and protecting your digital reputation.
Websites to help you stay safe online and/or deal with cyber bullying:
If you need to speak to a counsellor online:
Technology Guide for parents:
First rule? Check your mood! Are you feeling upset or angry? Then this is not the time to be messaging or posting on a social media site. People don't always make good decisions or think straight when they're stressed out or upset. If you have to, call someone or go for a run instead before you start venting online.
Second rule: when you're on a website, try to remain as anonymous as possible. That means keeping all private information private. Here are some examples of private information that you should never allow the public to see:
- your full name
- any type of photograph (even of your pet!)
- your current location (some phones have automatic GPS apps built in that may need to be turned off)
- home or school address or the address of any of your family or friends
- phone numbers
- names of family members
- credit card numbers
Most trustworthy people and companies won't ask for this type of information online. So if others do, it's a red flag that they may be up to no good. Always check with a parent if you are unsure, especially when shopping online or signing up for a website or app.
Think carefully before you create an email address or screen name. Web experts recommend that you use a combination of letters and numbers in both — and that you don't identify whether you're male or female.
When using messaging or chat/video apps, use a nickname that's different from your screen name. That way, if you ever find yourself in a conversation that makes you uncomfortable, you can exit without having to worry that someone knows your screen name and can track you down via email. Some people who hang out with their friends online set up private chat rooms where only they and the people they invite can enter to chat.
Safety experts recommend that people keep online friendships in the virtual world. Meeting online friends face to face carries more risks than other types of friendships because it's so easy for people to pretend to be something they're not when you can't see them or talk in person. It's safer to Skype or video message with someone first, but even that can carry some risks. Check with a parent that this is a safe thing for you to be doing. They may want to meet some of your contacts or sit in on a conversation before they allow you to set up Skype by yourself.
If you ever get involved in any messaging or online chats that make you feel uncomfortable or in danger for any reason, exit and tell a parent or other adult right away so they can report the incident. You also can report it to the website of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — they have a form for reporting this type of incident called CyberTipline. They will then see that the info is forwarded to law enforcement officials for investigation.
Using the Internet Safely
Be careful about what sites you go to - the best way to do this is to use a well-known search engine like Google or Yahoo. Only go to sites that look and feel okay and are designed for kids. Find an adult you can check with about which ones to use. Be careful of emails that come from people you don't know - sometimes people send emails to try to trick you, or the email has a virus attached that would muck up things on your computer. If you get an email from someone you don't know it's a good idea to delete it, block it or show an adult. Be careful of clicking pop-up screens or filling out online forms - These are usually made to get money from people or to trick people into receiving lots of emails.
Check with your parents or another adult if you're not sure whether something is safe to click or fill out. If you are feeling scared or worried about something that happens on the Internet - tell an adult about what is happening, close the window down or turn off your computer. Not everything on the Internet is true - Be careful of believing everything you read on the Internet. If something you have read makes you feel worried or uncomfortable.
If you are sick or unwell, don't use the Internet to find out what is wrong! - A lot of information on the Internet is a 'short' version that doesn't tell you the full story, and isn't able to do the right tests to be sure that you are unwell.
Only a professional can tell you if you are sick or unwell, so tell an adult if you're worried about something so they can help you get the right help. If you make a website, talk to your mum, dad or teacher and get them to check it out! - Adults can usually give you good advice on how to make your website safer, so you can enjoy it without breaking any Internet laws or risk someone else misusing your website. Bookmark your favourite websites - This will allow you to keep coming back to them without having to risk visiting other unsafe websites first.
Internet and the law
It can be useful to know some of the legal rules about using the Internet so that you don't accidentally end up breaking the law and getting into trouble. Here are some examples of ways you might accidentally break the law online:
- Cyberbullying another person.
- Pretending to be older than you are, so you can look at a website or talk to someone who is older than you.
- Sending photos of yourself without your clothes on (even if it's to a friend and/or it's just a joke).
- Taking pictures, sounds or words from someone else's website without their permission or without giving them credit for their work.
- Looking at websites that are not for children or young people.
To protect yourself, it's also a good idea to keep your password secret and not share it with anyone (except your parents or guardians). This is because someone could go online pretending to be you and do something wrong or even illegal and YOU could be the one that gets into trouble.
Even though you may think that you can trust your friends with your password, a lot of the time it is friends that accidentally or purposefully misuse someone's password! So it is important to keep your password to yourself - and change your password if you think someone has it or may misuse it.
What is cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is using technology to deliberately and repeatedly bully someone. By reporting it, talking about it and supporting each other we can stop it.
What does cyberbullying look like?
It can include:
- abusive texts and emails
- hurtful messages, images or videos
- imitating others online to set them up
- excluding others online
- nasty online gossip and chat
How do I deal with cyber bullying?
Talk, Report, Support
- talk to someone you trust straight away—like a parent, sibling, uncle/aunty, teacher or friend
- don't retaliate or respond—they might use it against you
- block the bully and change your privacy settings
- report the abuse to the service and get others to as well
- collect the evidence—keep mobile phone messages and print emails or social networking conversations
- remember you didn't ask for this—nobody deserves to be bullied