The Internet is a fantastic and inspiring resource which offers incredible scope for learning, connecting and communicating. Social media has made it easier than ever before to connect with people and share news, thoughts and opinions. Used properly the Internet and social media can add great value, but unfortunately there are people who abuse this resource.
It is easy to manage your online activity to ensure such people do not have access to your personal information and private posts. By following some simple guidelines you can stay safe online and have a positive experience of the Internet and the possibilities it opens up for you.
1. Keep it to Yourself - Never post personal information such as your address, email address or mobile number online. It is also a good idea to use a nickname (where possible) instead of your full name to protect your personal information.
2. Think Before You Post - Think carefully before posting pictures or videos of yourself. Once you’ve posted a photo online most people can see it and could even download it so it’s no longer your property. Even if you delete it at a later date it could still remain available online and be shared with people you don’t know.
3. Privacy - Use your privacy settings to protect yourself online. Keep your privacy settings as high as possible and make sure only friends you’ve approved can see your posts and images. If you aren’t comfortable with any online content you can get special software to filter what you have access to.
4. Protection - Set up a PIN or password on all your devices to protect your personal information. Create a strong password for your online accounts and never give out your passwords – you could be putting yourself at risk of identity theft or online hacking (someone gaining illegal access to your computer).
5. Stay Alert - Don’t befriend people you don’t know as that’s allowing strangers access to your personal information. Report any inappropriate contact, messages, conversations or online behaviour to a parent, carer or teacher and contact your online service provider, or where necessary, the police.
6. Stranger Danger - Don’t meet up with people you’ve met online. People create false personas online so not everyone is who they say they are. The person you think you have been chatting to may not be the same person when you meet so you’ll be putting yourself at risk. Speak to your parent or carer about people who suggest you meet up with them.
7. Don't Post to Impress - Don’t succumb to peer pressure online. What seems like a good idea when you’re being egged-on by classmates could be something you live to regret. Once you have pressed ‘send’ it’s too late to decide it was a bad idea. And remember, true friends wouldn’t encourage you to do something you’re uncomfortable with so never post just to impress.
8. Maintain Control - Stay in control of what you share. Always think carefully before you post online in order to protect your online reputation. Your content could last forever and be publicly shared by others so don’t make statements or comments you could end up regretting. Remember that potential colleges or employers could find you online and form an impression of you.
9. Be Respectful - Respect the laws that are in place to protect you by only using reliable services and trusted media providers for your music or TV. Also respect other people’s views, even if you don’t agree with them. Allow others to express themselves and don’t be rude if you don’t share their opinion, but report anything that is unkind, threatening or could be perceived as bullying.
10. Report Any Concerns - If you see something online that makes you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or worried: leave the website, turn off your computer if you want to and tell a trusted adult immediately.
If you want to discuss any issues or concerns you have with the Internet or online safety, Miss Jones (Safeguarding and Family Support Lead), Miss Butler and Miss Newey (Learning Managers) and Miss Woosey (Director of Learning) will be happy to help. More information on the safeguarding support available to you in school can be found on our Pastoral Support page.
The following sites are packed with more information and interactive quizzes and games to help you stay safe online: