Online Safety

Young people with caption: A course to help you learn about staying safe online

Module 1 - What is online safety all about

Who do we need to protect ourselves from?

For most people using a computer, tablet or phone to do things online is part of everyday life. It helps us manage our lives, and brings us a lot of enjoyment. However there are those who try to use our online activities against us so it's important to protect ourselves against people:

  • trying to cause emotional harm, physical harm or exploit you sexually
  • using your social media accounts to cause trouble or embarrass you
  • using your photos video etc without you saying they can
  • using your credit card or stealing your money (when you are old enough to have online accounts)
  • stealing your identity (Usually only over 18s are targeted)
  • Tricking you into spending money when playing games
  • putting viruses on your computer, tablet or phone

Is the way you access the online world safe?

Think about the ways you get online .... are they safe?  Whether you use a phone, tablet, laptop or computer, have you set a password to use it?  If you haven't set a password, anyone that gets hold of your device could get into your online accounts, get information about you and even post things in your name.

Keep your passwords to yourself

Passwords are your first line of defence against people who want to target you so it's important that you keep them to yourself.  This goes for the passwords you set on your devices and for the passwords to your online accounts such as Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram etc.  It might be tempting to tell a friend your password so they can do something but the safest thing is to just keep passwords to yourself.

Who do you need to protect yourself against on-line?

  • Anyone who want's to make life difficult for you
  • Bullies
  • Someone who just wants to play a joke on you
  • Hackers
  • Sex abusers
  • Cyber criminals who want to steal from you
Click any boxes that apply

Success!

You have completed module 1. Click the 'Home' button below to go to the next module.

Module 2 - Using social media safely

What is social media?

Social media is the term we use when talking about online communities. Here are some social media sites you have probably heard of:

Icons from the leading social media websites

....... and there are many more!

People use social media  to keep in touch, meet new people with the same interest, share ideas, photos, music, videos etc.

Social media has a lot of good points but it can also be very dangerous if you don't protect yourself while using it.

Usually you have to be at least 13 years old to have an account on one of these sites and in some cases you might need to be over 18.

Privacy settings

Sign : STOP! Security check

When you open a social media account such as Facebook you are asked several questions about yourself...... Your natural reaction is probably to answer all of them but do you really need to?  

Things like your address, telephone/mobile number and where you go to school/college/work are all things that people can use to find out about you so if a piece of information is optional don't give it!

The next thing you need to decide is, the level of privacy settings you want (who can see what). Just selecting 'Only my friends' might stop everyone else from seeing the things you post but it may not stop things like your date of birth being visible to everyone ............... So, take your time deciding who can see what and make sure you really understand the level of privacy you are choosing!  

If you don't really know about privacy settings ask someone who does. This might be an older family member or friend, a teacher or IT person at your school or you can contact the provider of your social media page for advice - They usually have a 'support' or 'help' section for this

If you already have a social networking account use the "Privacy Settings" option to change them.

Privacy settings - Something to think about...

Is all this privacy stuff really worth worrying about.... so what if I don't do anything?  Well it might seem that people are just out to scare you but the threat is very real!  Every minute of the day there are people looking for information on the internet that they can use for criminal purposes.... let them see enough information about you and you could have a real problem.

For example: if it's easy for someone to link a picture of you with where you live or go to school it's very easy for them to actually find you. Obviously this could lead to all sorts of things so it's sensible to make it hard for them to get that information in the first place.  You do this through the privacy settings of the social networking site you are using.

Group of young people

An example of what could happen if your privacy settings aren't secure

Did you know that anyone can download an app that shows all the people around them that are active on social media?

Two girls in a park

Well.... imagine this.... an undesirable person, we'll call him 'Spike' (but it could also be a woman), goes to a park or shopping centre with the app. Spike can then see everyone around him who is using social media. The users appear as dots on a radar screen and by clicking on a dot that person's social media page comes up!!  We'll call that person 'Mary'.

So..... Spike then know's Mary's name and has her profile photo.  This means that he can easily look around and find her. If Mary's profile is set to 'public' Spike also has any personal information she has put on her page which he can use to gain her trust. If her  home address or school is on the page he would know where to find her any time!

All this just because Mary wasn't careful with the information she put on her social media page.

This probably all sounds very scary but it can be avoided by thinking carefully about the risks and making sure that you set your privacy settings correctly so they protect you.

Be careful who you friend!

Three young people

In the real world we choose our friends..... usually because we like them, trust them, have fun with them, get support from them and above all else, because we know them.

So why should you treat online people any differently?

Be careful who you 'friend' and make sure you really do know them otherwise you could be giving a complete stranger access to the things you post online.

If you get a friend request from someone you know but you don't recognise their social media page, contact them (by text, phone or email) and check that it was really them who sent the request.

Some social media sites let you have groups like 'Friends', 'Close Friends', 'Family' and 'Acquaintances' so you can use this to make sure only the right people can see what you are posting.

Social media is a great way to keep up with friends and by thinking about the way you use it, you will be making sure you have a safe and fun experience. 

Think about what you share with people

Two surprised girls with a laptop

We have all heard the horror stories of people who have posted things on social media and then regretted it.  As you probably know, once something is posted on the internet it's almost impossible to remove completely because even if you take it down there is a good chance that it's already been shared.

This means you need to think very carefully about what you are posting:

  • Try not to post anything if you are feeling emotional about something..... posting while you are angry or upset means you are more likely to regret it later.
  • Never post anything you wouldn't want the whole world to see..... then if things go wrong you won't have to worry.
  • Never post anything that might cause you embarrassment later..... Something might seem cool or radical when you are young but how will you feel about it when you are older? 
  • It is common now for employers to check a job applicant's social media pages..... what does yours say about you?

Guidelines for using social media safely

  • Never post anything while.....
    .....you are angry or upset.
  • Who are the only people you should friend on social media?
    people you already know in real life.
  • How much information should you have in your profile?
    As little as possible!
  • How do you control who sees what on your social media pages?
    By using the Privacy/security settings of your Social media account.
  • Never post anything.....
    ......you wouldn't want the whole world to see!

Well Done!

That's module 2 finished. Click the ‘Home’ button to go to the next module.

Module 3 - Chat and messaging

Keeping up with your friends

There are lots of ways to chat with people online..... chat rooms, messaging from your social media page, texting, apps on your phone, Skype..... the list is endless.  Chatting is a great way to stay in touch with your friends especially if you aren't able to get out or you live in a different place.

Friends with a laptop

Chatting online to people you know in real life is pretty safe but chatting to people you don't know is very risky.... they might not be who they say they are and you have no way of knowing if what they are saying is true. 

On some online communities (social websites) it is possible to start up a chat with someone you haven't friended or aren't linked to.  If you ever receive a request to chat from someone you don't know the best thing is to ignore it or reject it.

As the title of the this page says..... the best use of chat is for keeping up with your friends..... the ones you know in real life.

Chat rooms

Girl looking happy

Chat rooms appeal to people because they think they can say what they like and be who they want to. They are in fact one of the most dangerous places on the internet because unlike messaging your real life friends, you have absolutely no idea who the people in a chat room are.

People in chat rooms can sound very nice, friendly and helpful but how do you know that is what they are really like?  While some people may be very honest and genuine there are others that aren't.

If you really want to use chat rooms take these precautions:

  • Only use a nickname not your real one
  • Never give personal information like where you live, email, telephone number, school or college
  • Remind yourself that the person you are talking to may not be who they say they are
  • Never agree to meet up with someone you meet online
  • Respect other people online and treat them as you would want people to treat you
  • Don't agree to send photographs of yourself
  • Avoid exchanging files as these can contain viruses
  • Make sure you protect yourself by having safe privacy settings
  • Know how to block someone or report them

Sexting

Girl looking worried with boy in the background

Sexting is sending sexually explicit images, video or text of/about yourself to someone else over the internet. You may have heard it called cybersex or sending a nudie.  You may hear people say this isn't a big deal but it is, a very big deal.....

  • You might see it as harmless but it can have a lasting  effect on your life and be very damaging emotionally.  You might love the person when you send the photo or message but if you break up they will still have it and you will have no control over what they do with it.
  • If someone gets hold of something sexually explicit they can use it to embarrass you or even blackmail you for money or make you do things you don't want to.
  • A lot of people may do it, but sexting between young people is illegal! If you are under 18 and send an explicit image to someone else, he/she will be committing a criminal offence for having it on his/her device.  He/she could face prosecution, a criminal record, and even be placed on the sex offenders’ register. If the person you sent it to did pass it on to other people he/she would also be guilty of distributing child pornography which would be an additional offence.

If someone is pressurising you to send sexually explicit images or videos of yourself or text about yourself sexually do not give in..... nobody has the right to make you do something like that.

How to keep safe with chat and messaging

  • Who is it safe to chat with?
    Friends you know in real life
  • What do you do if someone you don't know requests a chat?
    Ignore or block them
  • Is sexting illegal?
    Yes if you are under 18 (even if you are over 18 it's still not a good idea)
  • What could happen if you were sexting with someone under 18 years old?
    You could be prosecuted and placed on the sex offender register

Fantastic!

You are now half-way through the course. Click on the 'Home button to go to the next module.

Module 4 - Safety with emails, websites and downloads

Understanding the dangers

Girl using a laptopWe have looked at staying safe when you are using social media and chat but what about emails and general web surfing?

The main thing you need to protect yourself against here is accidentally downloading a virus to your computer. Criminals try to get us to download viruses or programmes on our devices that can cause us a whole lot of trouble:

  • A virus can wreck your device
  • Programmes called Malware and Trojans can send information from your device without you even knowing it
  • You computer could be takeover by someone anywhere in the world and even use your webcam to spy on you

Keeping safe with emails

Picture of an email programmeWe all get loads of emails, many of which we don't want or haven't asked for so follow these guidelines for dealing with them:

Bin it!
If you can see from the heading that you don't want to read it delete it straight away.... if you leave it where it is there is always the risk of accidentally opening it later.

Don't be tempted!
Criminals who want to trick you are very good at making you believe what they want.... they do this by making something sound so good that you feel like you really want to click on a link or download something - DONT!! This is the main way criminals get access to your computer or device - If you think it could be genuine and you want to find out more, google the company or offer instead. You could also google the company with the words 'Scam' to see if anyone has had a problem with them. It's been said a lot of times before but.... "if something seems to good to be true it probably is!"

Don't give out personal information!
Generally, companies and organisations don't ask you to send them personal information. If they need this for something you are doing (banking, club membership, managing an online account etc) they will tell you to login to your account and change or supply the information. They will not ask you to send personal information in an email so you should be suspicious if they do.  

Safe surfing

On the last page we talked about people sending you viruses etc by email but there are also dangers you kneed to be aware of when you are looking at websites:

Avoid dodgy websites! We all know how it goes.... you see a link to something that you know you shouldn't look at but you think "what's the harm in a quick peek"?  Don't be tempted.... you could be clicking into something that's illegal for you to view or you might unknowingly be clicking on a link that downloads a virus or spyware onto your computer. You might be putting yourself or your computer at risk or even unknowingly giving someone access to your webcam!

Be careful about downloading things
If you are looking at a website and there is an option to download something make sure you are confident that you can trust the site to avoid any of the things we mentioned in the previous paragraph. Also make sure it is legal to do it..... for example downloading videos, music and photos from file sharing websites could mean you are breaking the law if the material is copyrighted (copyrighted means you have to have permission from the person who created it or pay to download it).

Think about who you share your personal information with
Only give your name, address, telephone number or email address to sign up for something online from trustworthy websites. If you are not sure about a website ask your parents, teacher or another reliable adult about it.

Websites and e-mails - True or False?

  • Viruses, Malware, spyware and trojans are programmes that can harm your computer or put you at risk.
  • People getting access to your webcam is a story put about by parents to put children off using them.
  • It can be illegal to download videos, music and pictures from file sharing websites.
  • It is best to immediately delete any emails that you are not sure about.
  • If a website looks official it's safe to use.
  • You should only give your personal details to websites you know you can trust.
Check out what you have learned in this module by answering 'True' or 'False' to the statements below:

Wicked!

You are sailing through this course! Click the 'Home' button to go to the next module.

Module 5 - What to do if you have problems online

Don't be your own worst enemy!

Teenage boy staringIn the modules you have just worked through we have looked at many of the risks you face online and if you take the precautions you have learnt about you will be well on your way to a safer online life.

However, we haven't talked about the biggest risk.... yourself!!  A lot of problems we face online are made worse by the fact that we let our emotions and egos get in the way of taking rational, sensible, decisions. By this we mean that when logically we should be ignoring something, often our reaction is to fight back or if common sense says it is best not to share something we do because it will make us feel good or look good.

You can avoid this trap by taking the following action:

  • If someone says something nasty about you DON'T RESPOND - Things usually get worse if these people can see that something they are saying is affecting you.... If you don't react they will eventually give up.
  • If someone writes something on one of your public pages DON'T RESPOND - Simply delete the message and don't write a reply. Better still think about changing your settings so that people can't write something directly on your public page.
  • Don't be tempted to write a reply just so you can see their reaction - This usually makes things get a lot bigger and worse.  Delete the message and move on!
  • Act quickly! - Deleting a message quickly and if necessary blocking/un-friending a person will mean you won't have to read any more nasty stuff from them.... don't let your ego delay this simply because you want to see if you can get the better of them or change their mind about something.

REMEMBER: DON'T RESPOND, DELETE/BLOCK, MOVE ON

Taking action yourself

If there is something that makes you feel uncomfortable or threatened but it doesn't really seem serious there are a few things you can do yourself to stop the problem:

  • Delete what is bothering you - If you are sent something you are not happy about, just delete it. If it is something that you feel could lead to something more serious though copy it to somewhere safe in case you need it as proof if you have to report it (The only exception to this is if someone sends you something  pornographic or relating to child abuse, as saving it could mean you are breaking the law).
  • Block/un-friend or delete as a contact anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.
  • If you are in a chatroom and you have problems with another person block them and report them to the chatroom host - Most chatrooms have people who are responsible for keeping an eye on what is happening and if you have a problem with another visitor reporting them to the host/moderator is often enough to get them off your back.

Teenage girl looking confident

Reporting something more serious

If the thing that is making you feel uncomfortable or threatened is more serious you should report it as soon as possible.  This includes:

  • Threats to you or your family
  • Bullying - by text, chat, messaging, videos or phone calls
  • People sending you pornographic material
  • People talking to you in a sexual way, trying to get you to do things that you don't want to do or trying to get you to meet up with them

First talk to your parents/carers about it, then tell a responsible professional such as a teacher/tutor/youth worker or social worker or the police.... who you tell will depend on what it's about. For example: If you are being bullied online by people from your school/college it would be best to tell your teachers. On the other hand if the problem is with a complete stranger it would be best to tell the police.

Teenage boy with laptop and phoneIf you don't feel comfortable about talking to anyone. you can report it online to CEOP (the Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre by visiting their website at: https://ceop.police.uk/ (Click this link now to open the CEOP website in a new window and find out all about reporting a problem)

If your problem isn't any of the above but it is about someone hacking into your account, stealing information/your identity/money or to report a suspicious website, visit the Action Fraud website at: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk (Click on this link now to open the Action Fraud website in a new window and find out how to report cyber crime)

You can also report cyber crime or worrying activity to the organisations that are responsible for your account:  For example Facebook, Twitter, Google, Yahoo, Banks, Colleges.  But if it is serious you should also report it to Action Fraud or CEOP as well.

Dealing with problems online

  • If someone says something nasty.....
    Don’t Respond
  • The golden rule....
    Don’t Respond, Delete/block, move on
  • Who can help you in a chatroom?
    A person called the 'Host' or 'Moderator'
  • You can use these websites to report abuse or cyber crime
    CEOP and Action Fraud

Congratulations!

You have now completed all of the learning modules. Click on the 'Home' Button to go to the final stage of this course.

Module 6 - What to do next

What to do next

You have now completed the Cambridgeshire youth Support Service online safety course. If you have completed the course as part of your youth project or school/college work you can get a certificate to put in your personal folder. If you wish to do this follow these instructions:

 

Well Done! We hope you have enjoyed the course and learnt a few things that will help to keep you safe online. The only thing to do now is check all your security settings as we have described in the course and make sure you continue to have a safe and enjoyable future online.

Finally.... remember www.youthoria.org is always there if you need any information or help.