Staying safe online

The internet is a great place to make friends and stay in touch, not only with friends and family but with shops and businesses too. But it’s important to stay safe when you’re online.

What is ‘staying safe online’, anyway?

Although the internet is a great way of finding out information and staying in touch with people, unfortunately not everyone is as honest as they may appear to be ‘behind the screen’. 

Staying safe online means protecting yourself against people who may want to take advantage of the way the internet works. It’s just the same as learning how to cross the road safely – staying safe online is a skill that’s important to have, in today’s modern world.

It’s tempting to ‘make friends’, or post information about yourself on social networking sites, but it can be a really unsafe thing to do. Personal information includes things like your email address, your phone number, and your home address.

What are the golden rules?

Remember, not everyone online is who they say they are – and it’s important to think carefully about what you say before you post something online.

How do I know if there’s a problem?

Your bank, your building society, and most ‘professional’ companies won’t ask you for personal information online. They know it’s not a good idea to share details that way. So if you’re asked for it by someone who ‘appears’ to be one of those organisations, phone them instead. 

So what should I do to stay safe?

  • Never share your passwords.
  • Don't open emails from people you don't know.
  • Don't give out personal information – things like your address or phone number.
  • Don’t send pictures of yourself to anyone – especially pictures you wouldn’t share with friends.
  • Don’t send messages that you wouldn’t want ‘everyone’ to read.
  • Don’t hesitate to share your concerns. If you read something online that worries you, tell someone about it – a problem shared is a problem halved.
  • Don’t forget – it’s online, and you can switch it off at any time.

Finally, don’t arrange to meet in person with someone who you've met online – unless you’ve taken very careful, appropriate precautions like letting someone know where you’re going and who you’re going to meet. It’s much better to arrange a group meeting in a public place.