Staying safe is important…
The Internet is an amazing invention. It has brought all the interesting things happening in the world, right into people’s homes. You can play games with other kids who live on the other side of the world, meet people that you would never normally meet and find out about pretty much anything, all with the click of a mouse.
Although the Internet is a wonderful thing, it also has some dangers. And like other fun things, it’s important to use the Internet in a safe way, so you don’t get hurt. For example:
- Riding a bike is fun, but you wear a helmet to keep safe
- Playing outside is fun, but need to wear sunscreen and a hat so you don’t get burnt
- Going to the beach is fun, but you need to swim between the flags, so the life savers can make sure you are OK
It’s the same with being on the Internet – it’s a great place to be, but you need to think about how to play there safely. So let’s look at some of the things that you can do to stay safe online.
- Using the Internet Safely
- Internet and the law
- Staying Safe while Chatting Online
- Mobile Phone Safety
Talking with us can help. We're here for you. 1800 55 1800
How can I use the internet safely?
To get to our website, you probably had to use a lot of computer skills that even some adults would have trouble working out! But even people who know how to use a computer and the Internet can still get themselves into trouble online.
For example, some of the information on the Internet is not checked by anyone – it’s just stuff that people think is right or stuff they put there. Some stuff on the Internet is made only for adults to look at, and can be confusing, worrying or scary for kids. And some stuff on the Internet is made to trick people into giving money or telling people where they live.
So here are some tips to help you search the Internet more safely:
- Be careful about what sites you go to…
The best way to do this is to use a well-known search engine like Google or Yahoo. Only go to sites that look and feel okay and are designed for kids. Find an adult you can check with about which ones to use.
- Be careful of emails that come from people you don’t know…
Sometimes people send emails to try to trick you, or the email has a virus attached that would muck up things on your computer. If you get an email from someone you don’t know it’s a good idea to delete it, block it or show an adult.
- Be careful of clicking pop-up screens or filling out online forms…
These are usually made to get money from people or to trick people into receiving lots of emails. Check with your parents or another adult if you’re not sure whether something is safe to click or fill out.
- Not everything on the Internet is true…
Be careful of believing everything you read on the Internet. If something you have read makes you feel worried or uncomfortable.
- If you are sick or unwell, don’t use the Internet to find out what is wrong!
A lot of information on the Internet is a ‘short’ version that doesn’t tell you the full story, and isn’t able to do the right tests to be sure that you are unwell. Only a professional can tell you if you are sick or unwell, so tell an adult if you’re worried about something so they can help you get the right help.
- If you make a website, talk to your mum, dad or teacher and get them to check it out!
Adults can usually give you good advice on how to make your website safer, so you can enjoy it without breaking any Internet laws or risk someone else misusing your website
- Bookmark your favourite websites…
This will allow you to keep coming back to them without having to risk visiting other unsafe websites first.
If you are feeling scared or worried about something that happens on the Internet… tell an adult about what is happening, close the window down or turn off your computer.
If you want to learn more about online safety, visit the eSafety website that will help you learn more about how to keep safe online and report bullying.
Are there laws that apply to the Internet?
It can be useful to know some of the legal rules about using the Internet so that you don’t accidentally end up breaking the law and getting into trouble. Here are some examples of ways you might accidentally break the law online:
- Cyberbullying another person.
- Pretending to be older than you are, so you can look at a website or talk to someone who is older than you.
- Sending photos of yourself without your clothes on (even if it’s to a friend and/or it’s just a joke).
- Taking pictures sounds or words from someone else’s website without their permission or without giving them credit for their work.
- Looking at websites that are not for children or young people.
To protect yourself, it’s also a good idea to keep your password secret and not share it with anyone (except your parents or guardians). This is because someone could go online pretending to be you and do something wrong or even illegal and YOU could be the one that gets into trouble.
Even though you may think that you can trust your friends with your password, a lot of the time it is friends that accidentally or purposefully misuse someone’s password! So it is important to keep your password to yourself – and change your password if you think someone has it or may misuse it.
How can I stay safe when chatting online?
I’m sure you’ve heard about stranger danger, and if you were playing at the park you wouldn’t go off with someone you didn’t know. It’s the same when you’re playing online or in chat rooms.
In chat rooms you can’t see the person you are talking to, so it’s hard to know that they are who they say they are. Sometimes adults who are strangers go onto kids chat sites and pretend that they are someone your age, when they aren’t.
It may be that the new friend you met in a game or chat room is the 12 year-old girl that she says OR it may be that ‘she’ really is a 40 year-old man pretending to be a young girl! So really, it’s best to only chat to people who you know already (like kids from school or family members).
But if you do talk to someone you don’t know, here are some things to keep in mind that will help you stay safe:
- Don’t give out any personal information to people you haven’t met in “real life”.
- Don’t use your real name when chatting online – try using a nickname instead.
- Don’t give out your personal details like your full name, phone number, date of birth or address – as these can be used by someone to find you.
- Be careful about what pictures you put up online. Remember, strangers can sometimes work out where to find you from photos that include signs, familiar places or school or sports uniforms. You might like to use a photo of something else you like instead.
- Talk to your parents or guardians about any new friends you have made online.
- Never meet someone who you have met online or have them visit you without talking to your parent or guardian about this first.
- Set your profile to private – that way you can be sure that only the people you want to see your stuff will see it!
- Don’t accept friends requests if you don’t know the person.
And most importantly:
Tell a trusted adult straight away if your new friend is saying or asking you things that make you feel uncomfortable or scared!
What about Cyberbullying?
Just like there can be bullies in the playground, there can be people who bully other kids over the Internet. ‘Cyberbullying’ is when someone uses the Internet or mobile phones to say or do things that might make you feel, sad, scared or upset.
Cyberbullying can involve:
- Teasing someone online.
- Making up hurtful things about someone or spreading rumours about them online.
- Posting embarrassing or hurtful photos of someone online.
- Sending hurtful or scary messages to someone online.
- Pretending to be a person you aren’t while online to trick, scare or hurt someone.
Cyberbullying is NEVER okay and is something that is so serious that it can sometimes be investigated by the police.
The way to deal with bullying, whether it is at school or on the Internet, is always different depending on the situation, who the bully is and how the bullying started. So, it is important to find a solution that works for you.
There are important things that can be helpful to remember if you are being cyberbullied:
- It is NOT your fault.
- There is help available (teachers, parents, counsellors can all be helpful people to talk with about your situation).
- You can block the bullies from being able to send you messages or emails or stay offline for a while – ask a grown up if you need to know how to do this.
- Keep copies of bullying messages that are sent to you in case you need them to show someone what has been happening.
Sometimes it can be hard asking for help because you’re worried that the other person won’t get it, or that it will make the bullying worse. Sometime kids don’t want to talk to an adult about cyberbullying because they think that they won’t be allowed to use the computer or Internet anymore.
We know it can be hard, but it is really important to talk to someone about it. Cyberbullying doesn’t usually go away until something is done to stop it. Most kids have said that they DO NOT think bullying is ‘cool’ and would help out their friends if they saw it. They also said that telling an adult was the most helpful thing that they did. If you are still not sure what to do perhaps you could ring Kids Helpline and talk to someone who could help you decide.
Here are some places you can go that can help to work out what to do:
We are here for you. It's free. 1800 55 1800
How can I use my mobile phone safely?
Not all kids are able to have mobile phones until they are older, but even if you don’t have one, you are likely to come into contact with one at some point. People that use mobile phones find that they are a useful way to call and stay in touch with parents, family and friends. They also let us to do other things like use the Internet and take photos, play games, and sending text messages and images.
But just like it’s important to use the Internet safely, it is also important to use your mobile phone safely too, so that you don’t get yourself into trouble.
Here are some useful tips for using your mobile phone safely:
- Never post your telephone number on the Internet or share it with anyone you don’t know…
This is one way that strangers and bullies use to call kids. The more private you keep your number; the less likely you are to be contacted by these people.
- Don’t let a stranger or someone who isn’t a close friend borrow your phone – even if it sounds urgent…
If they decide to misuse your phone, you may get blamed because it was your phone that made the call! If it is a genuine emergency, dial ‘000’ for them and pass on the phone. Do not leave a stranger alone with your phone.
- If you receive a text message from an unknown person, don’t reply…
It could be from someone unsafe, it contain a virus or be a way to take money from you. Consider deleting these kinds of messages and blocking these kinds of people.
- Tell an adult if someone sends you unkind messages or asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable…
It can really help to make a note of the number it came from, the date and time of the call, or save the message. This can then be used to help you prove what has been happening and put a stop to it.
- Mobile phones can get really expensive!
Long calls and purchasing apps are a sure way to end up with a big bill – and end up losing your phone privileges. Be responsible and ask your parent’s permission if you plan to make a long call or purchase apps for your phone.
- Think before you text!
Only send the kinds of text messages and photos that you would be happy to receive. If you something you are going to send could hurt or upset someone, then don’t send it.
- Don’t ever send embarrassing, nude or semi-nude photos of yourself to anyone – not even as a joke!
Photos can be shared with people very easily and quickly, and your embarrassing photo may end up on the phones of other people or even the Internet – for the whole world to see. Sending nude photos of yourself is also a crime, and you and the person you send it too could get into trouble with the police.
- Stay aware of your privacy
Remember, if you can take photos of everything and everyone with your phone, then others can do the same thing to you! Be careful of who you allow to take photos of you – or what you are doing when someone is taking photos with their mobile phone.
Owning a mobile phone is a big responsibility. So it is important to use it safely to show your parents that you are responsible enough to own one, so you can continue to use one in the future.
Talking with us can help. We're here for you. 1800 55 1800
If you want to learn more about online safety, visit the eSafety website that will help you learn more about how to keep safe online and report bullying. If you are not sure about what to do then contact us and one of our Counsellors can assist you.