01 Feb How To Stay Safe Online: 10 Tips for Teens
Every February, the world comes together to promote Safer Internet Day. It’s an opportunity to spark a national and international conversation around safe and positive use of the internet for young people. Whether you’re a parent or looking to refresh your own knowledge about staying safe online, we’ve put together a list of ten top tips.
How to Stay Safe Online: 10 Must-Read Pieces of Advice
1. Stranger Danger
Remember the old saying “Stranger Danger”? Just as you wouldn’t talk to, share photos with or give out personal information to a stranger on the street, the same applies online. You never know who is really typing those messages, however convincing they may seem! Always tell a parent or teacher straight away if messages or images you see or receive online make you feel uncomfortable
2. Check your privacy settings
It’s easy to set up a social media account, but make sure you take your time to choose the highest privacy settings. Or, go back now and check them! Google yourself and see what information and images come up in the results – this is your ‘digital footprint’. You may be surprised and find your profiles and photos aren’t as hidden as you thought.
3. Remember, posting is permanent
Many people think that deleting something online means removing it from the internet forever. Sadly, that’s not true. After posting something online, anyone can save, download and re-use it! Think twice before posting something you may regret later – remember employers often check social profiles when hiring. Posting something in the heat of the moment or an inappropriate photo can make or break your future. Just think about all the recent scandals around the uncovering of old, inappropriate tweets by a host of now infamous YouTubers!
4. Create strong passwords
When it comes to passwords, your birthday just won’t cut it! Keeping your accounts safe online starts with choosing secure passwords with a mix of symbols, numbers and capital letters. Never share your passwords with anyone, even friends.
5. Never reveal personal information
Anyone that knows you well, will never need to ask for personal information like your address or school online. Never give out this information and be wary of who is asking for it – always tell a parent or teacher.
6. Be aware of fake news
Fake news has been on everyone’s lips during the past year or so. Normally, if something sounds too good to be true, it is! If you were wondering, understanding how to stay safe online doesn’t stop with social media. It’s also about picking up on spam emails. Never open links or attachments from an unknown sender, they could unleash a virus on your computer. And never pass on personal information, such as online banking details, when requested by email – your bank or other trusted organisations will never ask for this over email.
7. Be respectful to others
It’s easy to type something when you’re hiding behind a screen. But remember, there’s also a real person at the other side of the screen, so be respectful and polite to others online. Despite all the interaction, social media can feel like a very lonely place to be.
8. Remember our lives on social media aren’t the full story
Recent studies have shown the effect social media can have on how young people feel about themselves and their lives. In a world of impeccable Instagram feeds and seemingly beautiful YouTubers, it’s really important to remember that the lifestyles portrayed on social media are only part of the story. Despite how it looks from the outside, nobody’s life is perfect and follower counts don’t define your meaningful offline relationships.
9. Know how to block or report content
Part of Safer Internet Day is about taking responsibility for making the internet a better place to be. Knowing how to block and report inappropriate content or instances of cyber-bullying helps shape the community.
10. Recognise when it’s time to log off
And finally, using the internet safely is not just about what you get up to online, it’s about how much time you’re spending doing it. The internet is a great tool for keeping in touch with friends and being creative, but being online for excessive amounts of time can have a negative impact on other areas of life, such as school and sleep. It’s really important to know when it’s time to unplug and spend some time away from screens, especially our smartphones.
With our ten internet safety tips, we hope to help young people understand how to stay safe online and be better prepared to enjoy the internet and its benefits more wisely. Get involved with spreading awareness about Safer Internet Day using the hashtag #SID2018!