With all of us spending more time online than ever before, it is very important for us to stay well informed on how to stay safe online when using the internet, apps and social media on all our different devices. Sadly, there are many people and groups who work specifically to target people. Below, we have put together some of the most important tips and rules for staying safe online.
Other Important Rules for Staying Safe Online
Privacy and Confidentiality
- Never share your passwords with anyone. Even if you really trust someone, you never know what could happen if you fell out. That person may login to your account pretending to be you, post inappropriate things, send messages to others or read your private conversations and share what you have been saying.
- Beware of the things that you post online and on social media. Even if you delete your posts, social media still keeps a record of them forever, and others may have screenshots you cannot delete. There are many celebrities and other adults who have had their reputation ruined or lost their jobs because their inappropriate old social media posts were revealed by someone years later.
- When posting on social media, set your privacy settings to ‘friends only’. This will stop strangers and potential hackers from viewing your private information.
Sharing Intimate Photos or Videos (aka. Sexting)
Never send private or intimate images of yourself to someone online or via text even if you have a relationship with the person in real life. Once these images have been sent, it is impossible to unsend them or get them back. It is now extremely common to see cases amongst young people where intimate pictures/videos someone has sent have been posted online or shared with other people without their consent. If someone asks you to send them intimate photos, politely decline and explain that you are not comfortable with this. If they continue to pressure you, block and report them. You can also download Childline’s Zipit App, which has been created to give you responses you can use if someone is trying to pressure you into sending nudes.
Some useful online links for more information about sexting include:
- What is sexting? (Childline)
- ThinkUKnow – sex, relationships and the internet
If you’re worried that you’ve shared indecent images of yourself online and you want help to get them removed from the internet, but are too embarrassed to speak to your carer, contact Childline either online here or on 0800 1111. They can help you to report the images and get them removed.
Money Related Scams
Beware of online scams. In a scam, the scammer tricks you into willingly giving over your personal details or money. This is different to fraud, in which your details get stolen. The bank will therefore not refund any of your money if you fall victim to a scam, so you must be very careful to spot the signs of scams! Scammers are known to target young people as they may be less knowledgeable on how to spot a scam.
Money Muling Schemes aka. AC’s
Another common dangerous scheme which targets young people online or in person, especially in London, is something known as Money Muling – slang names for this that you may have heard other young people use include: AC’s, money flips or squares. Social media accounts or people may reach out to you asking to borrow your bank account asking you to hold some money for them for a while, claiming you will be able to keep hundreds or thousands of pounds for doing so. This money is money that has been made from illegal activity – that is why the person does not want it to be linked to their own bank account.
If someone asks you to use your bank account, they are not trying to help you make money, but rather use you so you receive the consequences of their criminal activity whilst they keep the money. Often, they may pose as your friend or even pretend to fancy you to convince you into doing this. Generally, young people who fall victim to this scheme get no money. Instead your name will be blacklisted by all banks, and this will remain on your credit file for many years, preventing you from doing very important things in the future such as getting a phone contract, a student loan or a credit card. You can also face up to 14 years in prison if you are 16 or over.
What if I’m too embarrassed to speak to my carer/social worker about something that has happened online?
When things go wrong online, many young people are afraid, embarrassed or ashamed to tell someone in case they have their phones taken off them or they are wrongly judged. This only allows the abuse to continue.
But the good news is that help is available. If something does go wrong online, don’t suffer in silence. It’s not your fault. If you’re too embarrassed to tell your carer, or you’re worried you will get in trouble, you can:
- Talk to a trusted adult instead
- Contact ChildLine online or on 0800 1111
Other Useful Links to Websites on Staying Safe Online
- Childline’s Online and Mobile Safety Page
- Thinkuknow – an education programme which protects children both online and offline
For more information on online safety, visit this website.