How to play it safe on the internet

Your personal privacy matters, so don't let criminals and bullies abuse your basic human rights online. These tips can help.

Maybe you're wondering what internet safety has to do with getting connected? These days, physical travel using buses and trams isn't the only way to get to where you want to be. Nowadays, a lot of our most exciting journeys involve the internet. That's especially true with the pandemic! You can go to online careers fairs and job interviews... you can even do virtual apprenticeships and work from home in ways that don't involve travel costs at all.

That's why it's important to know about internet safety, the same way you know about road safety.

Think about how you use apps

Make sure you choose and use apps in a safe and secure way! Apps are meant to make your life easier, but it's pretty inconvenient (and sometimes dangerous) if someone else can use an app to get hold of your personal info.

  • Only use official app stores
  • Read the small print about data sharing and in-app payments
  • Think carefully when an app asks you for access to location, camera, contacts or anything else
  • Public Wi-Fi may not be secure - can you wait until later, or use your data instead?
  • Log out when you're done
  • Always download updates for new features and security fixes
  • PIN or password-protect your devices
  • Remove apps when you're bored with them

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is when you get bullied online. It may not be physical but it hurts and it shouldn't happen. Don't suffer in silence.

You can report cyberbullying of yourself or your friend directly to Greater Manchester Police either by phone, in person or online.

You can 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.

Talk to Childline

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/uni to see.
  • If you get abusive messages, don't delete them. Keep them for evidence.
  • Do not reply to abusive messages.
  • Keep your passwords safe for email and social platforms.

Young Minds: Help with bullying

How to use social media safely

Social media offers a lot of freedom, but with great freedom comes great responsibility. You don't always really know the person behind the persona. You might look up to an influencer and 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 come across all kinds of hate speech on social media like racism, sexism, homophobia and more.

It's important to feel safe and be safe when you use any social media network.

Once you post something, sometimes deleting isn't an option. Before you post, ask yourself how you would feel if it was screengrabbed 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.

Check your social privacy settings with NCSC

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.

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