The internet is amazing – you can play awesome games, connect with friends and family in foreign countries and find information on almost any subject. With that however comes some danger, which is why we’ve created a 5-step guide to staying safe while having fun online.
- Not everyone is as they seem. It may seem like an internet folk tale but unfortunately this one has proved true on more than one occasion; with just a few photos ‘borrowed’ from google and the right script, anyone can imitate anyone. Usually these people will try and learn more about you to become your friend and then use your trust to convince you to tell them things or do things that you wouldn’t normally do – such as sending photos or agreeing to meet up in the real world. That friend you made may turn out to be a grown adult with ulterior motives. Stay safe and don’t give your trust to just anyone.
- Don’t give out your information to anyone you don’t know in ‘real life’. There’s no need for anyone online to know anything except your name (or more preferably your username). If anyone asks for your full address or other personal information it’s best to err on the side of caution and keep it to yourself, you can never tell for sure what they want this info for.
- Sometimes blocking is the best solution. If you’re getting messages which are hurtful, demeaning or inappropriate the best ways to deal with it are to report the user if possible, and then to delete and block them. You deserve to be treated with the same manners as you are in everyday life, the internet can be fun so don’t let a few rotten apples spoil it for you.
- Save your Facebook for your real friends. Though it’s tempting to accept every friend request and see the number climbing up, Facebook should be a place for your real friends and family, a place you can talk freely and share memories. Letting strangers and internet friends into your Facebook is an easy way for private details to be stolen, and a common way for predators to initiate a chat. Set your privacy details to private, and only share your full name (or Facebook alias) with those you know.
- Everything is public on the internet. There is a well known saying that “nothing gets deleted from the internet”, and it’s true. As many users have found out over the years it’s always the words you regret writing or the pictures you regret posting that end up going viral. As soon as you’ve uploaded anything, it only takes a moment for someone else to take a screenshot or download your files/images to their own computer. From there they can share them with whoever they feel like and post it to whichever sites they fancy. It is always much, much more difficult to have something removed from unwanted sites than it is to just avoid posting it at all. If you wouldn’t be happy showing it to your parents and friends, don’t post it online!