Staying Safe online

The internet is an amazing place that can offer us a way to learn, chat with friends, create and connect online, you may spend a lot of time online, so it’s important to make the most of it and enjoy it whilst also understanding the risks and how to be safe, sensible and respectful to others too. 

Know who you’re dealing with

Socialising online can be fun, it’s a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. Lots of people only play or chat with people they know in person, and that’s a sensible approach. But if you do meet people you don’t know, use the same caution that you would offline. Always remember people may not be who they say they are, so be mindful about what you say about yourself. Keep chat general and if you are concerned that someone’s asking for personal details, then stop contact and tell a trusted adult. Never arrange to meet someone you only know online. 

Online friendships

Try to think of your online world as an extension of your offline friendships. Include friends in your activities, it can feel just as hurtful to be left out of online games or chat as offline ones. Be careful how you word things too, sometimes the written word can be misinterpreted. So whether it’s emails, texts or posts, be considerate to how they may come across. Save your important conversations, like resolving conflicts, for face to face meetings.

Be respectful

Be respectful of your friends on social media. Don’t post photos of them they might find embarrassing without asking first – and take them down straight away if someone asks you to. Try to be mindful of how your posts will make people feel before you put them up. You’ll care about what other people post about you – so be courteous to others too.

Your digital footprint

Every time you go online you leave what’s called a digital footprint which shows others where you are and what you have been doing. So while posting pictures and videos is great for sharing with friends and being creative, always remember that once an image or file is online it’s likely to stay there forever. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandmother to see.

Think before you post

Social media and some websites are great for airing your opinions and making the world a better place. However, be wary of writing negative posts. Ranting on the spur of the moment might feel good at the time but you may regret it later. Instead, try to put your point across in a positive or neutral way, it’ll have more impact and shouldn’t cause offence. Always remember that when you respond to something someone’s said, there’s a person at the other end who has feelings, just like you do.

Protect your identity

When using the internet never give out personal information, such as your number, where you live or what school you go to – it’s a big no-no. If you are using social media check your privacy settings and make sure only friends can see your posts.

Keep a healthy balance

The internet is a fantastic resource for research and schoolwork, but make sure you take regular breaks away from the screen. If you find yourself spending a lot of time online and even thinking about it when you’re offline (instead of spending time with friends or family) then maybe it’s time to back off a bit. There’s a whole world out there – and while the internet can be fun, creative and social, you could be missing out on real life, like hanging out with your real mates. It’s all about striking a good balance.

 

Understanding It’s not always real life

Remember, photos and posts can exaggerate real life. Think about it – we usually select the prettiest, happiest pictures (you rarely see posts about going to the supermarket with your mum or photos of a massive spot). Images of other people’s (carefully chosen) perfect lives can leave you feeling low, but they don’t tell the whole story, so try not to compare yourself.

(source: BBC)      

The news you see online or on social media isn’t always going to be truthful. And it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake.  Some websites will report fake news or things that aren’t completely true. They might do it because they want to scare you or make you do something. Or because they make money from people going to their site.

Fake news can look real, but there are ways to help you spot it.

  • Check the name of the website and its web address to see if it looks real. Some sites will try to look like other websites so you think they’re genuine.
  • Find out whether it’s being reported on other sites that you know and trust. If it’s only being reported on websites you’ve never heard of then it might not be true.
  • Sometimes headlines or stories are designed to scare or interest you. Read what’s in the article carefully, ask yourself whether it seems true and why they’re saying it.
  • Always ask someone you trust, Try asking an adult you trust to see what they think. If you’re worried about something you’ve seen online, you can always talk to us

(Source: Childline)

 

Understanding what online abuse is?

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet. It can happen across any device that’s connected to the web, like computers, tablets and mobile phones. And it can happen anywhere online, including:

  • social media
  • text messages and messaging apps
  • emails
  • online chats
  • online gaming
  • live-streaming sites.

Children can be at risk of online abuse from people they know or from strangers. It might be part of other abuse which is taking place offline, like bullying or grooming. Or the abuse might only happen online. Cyberbullying, grooming, sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation, sexting, can also be signs of online and emotional abuse.

 Signs of online abuse

A child or young person experiencing abuse online might:

  • spend a lot more or a lot less time than usual online, texting, gaming or using social media
  • seem distant, upset or angry after using the internet or texting
  • be secretive about who they’re talking to and what they’re doing online or on their mobile phone
  • have lots of new phone numbers, texts or email addresses on their mobile phone, laptop or tablet.

If you are experiencing any kind of abuse and you need help, we’re here to support you

Call us on 0330 0881 339 or email: help@staffsvictimsgateway.org.uk 

Useful Links: 

Staffordshire Police –  https://www.staffordshire.police.uk/police-forces/staffordshire-police/areas/staffordshire-police/campaigns/2019/cyber-bullying/ 

Childline – https://www.childline.org.uk/info-advice/bullying-abuse-safety/online-mobile-safety/ 

 

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