How to Play it Safe on the Internet
Your personal privacy and online safety matter. Don’t let criminals and bullies abuse your basic human rights while on the internet. These tips can help.
A lot of us spend a lot of time online. Whether that’s for fun, work, school or finding a job – the internet has become an invaluable tool for many. You can go to careers fairs and job interviews online, and many people do – especially in recent years. There are even virtual apprenticeships, and many of us work completely or mostly from home.
That’s why it’s so important to know about internet safety. The internet is a vital part of how you stay connected, so you should know how to stay safe – the same way you know about how to stay safe on the roads or public transport.
In this article, we’ve got a few of our top tips that can help you stay safe online.
Think about how you use apps
Make sure you choose and use apps in a safe and secure way! The apps on your phone are meant to make your life easier. But it would be pretty inconvenient (not to mention dangerous!) if someone else could use an app on your device to get hold of your personal info.
- Only use official app stores – don’t just download apps from anywhere
- Read the small print about data sharing and in-app payments – check these before you download
- Think carefully when an app asks you for access to location, camera, contacts or anything else – does it really need the access?
- Public WiFi might not be secure – can you wait until later, or use your mobile data instead?
- Log out of apps and websites on your phone when you’re finished with them – this stops them from constantly harvesting or leaking information
- Always download updates for new features and security fixes – it’s worth doing these regularly
- Use a PIN or password on your phone – you can also use biometrics like your face or fingerprint.
- Remove apps if you’re not using them – if you’ve not used an app for ages, delete it from your phone to stop it from getting any information you don’t want it to
Cyberbullying is when you get bullied online. It may not be physical abuse or violence, but it hurts and it shouldn’t happen. Don’t suffer in silence.
You can report cyberbullying of yourself or your friends directly to Greater Manchester Police either by phone, in person or online.
You can also speak about it to an organisation like Childline. Their trained counsellors will listen. You don’t have to give your name and you can talk about anything that’s worrying you.
Some cyberbullying tips:
- Stay in control on websites by knowing where the “block sender” and “report abuse” buttons are
- Don’t share photos or info you wouldn’t want a stranger or all your friends at school, college or uni to see
- If you get abusive messages, don’t just delete them as they will be important evidence when you report it
- Don’t reply to abusive messages
- Keep your passwords safe for email and social platforms. To help, try using a password manager
How to use social media safely
Social media can offer you a lot of freedom, but with great freedom comes great responsibility. You don’t always really know the person behind the social account or persona. You might look up to an influencer and then end up discovering their darker side. You might say something privately because you were having a bad day, and it could get spread among your friendship group – for all the wrong reasons. And of course, you may come across all kinds of hate speech on social media like racism, sexism, homophobia and more.
It’s important to feel safe as well as being safe when you use any social media network.
Once you post something, sometimes deleting it isn’t an option. Before you post, ask yourself how you would feel if it was screenshotted and shown to the wrong person.
Remember that hate speech can be reported on social media.
Sometimes you can get sucked into social media and it can lower instead of lift your mood. It’s okay to step away from it if you need to.
The internet can open your eyes to new possibilities and help you access opportunities and knowledge in really exciting ways. Just remember that your privacy and wellbeing are both very important. You deserve to be and feel safe when you use the internet for anything you need in life.