The Internet is now a big part of many people’s lives. The internet helps us stay in touch with friends and family, and make new friends. We can have fun and find out about what interests us. But there are downsides and potential dangers that could result in embarrassment for you, or even physical danger.
There are two areas to keep safe: your computer and you!
Keeping Yourself Safe on the Internet
Don’t give out any personal information such as your name, address, your school, your mobile number or email address. People can use this information to try to meet up with you in the real world. Use a nickname on your profile.
Think carefully about what you put on your social networking pages, and who you accept as a friend. Other people can copy your material and make use of it long after you think you’ve deleted it! So don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your Mum, Dad, or teacher to see!
If someone makes you feel uncomfortable, end the conversation and the relationship – remember it is you who is in charge! You can tell a trusted adult or report it online at: http://www.ceop.gov.uk/reportabuse/index.asp or click on the red CEOP button on the homepage.
Think carefully about meeting your online friends in the real world. They may not be who they say they are. If you do, arrange to meet in a public place. Don’t get in a car or go to their house. Either take someone with you or tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back. If they’re genuine they’ll understand why you’re being careful. If you want to know more have a look at: www.thinkuknow.co.uk
Your Computer: Spyware
This is a program that secretly watches a user’s Internet activity. Like a virus, it looks for personal information and can take over your computer. It’s often installed unintentionally when downloading free programs for file-sharing or an ‘Internet accelerator’. So be wary of free or pirated downloads. Use sites that have a “No Spyware” policy and read the licence carefully. Also use an anti spyware program and keep it updated.
Your Computer: Viruses
These are programs that can change or delete files and get personal information like passwords. Really bad ones can take over your computer.
Viruses can be hidden in emails and their attachments, and in software such as screensavers, wallpaper, music and video files. So, again be wary of free or pirated (illegally copied) software and media files. Don’t open emails and attachments if you don’t know who sent them. Don’t be tempted by subject lines that say “I love you” or “About last night…!” Use antivirus software to scan your files, and hard drives regularly, remember to keep it updated.
Users and content on this site
If you are concerned about the behavior of someone who has an account with this site, or you are concerned about any content on this site please email: firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us why you are concerned.