How to stay safe in cyberspace!
We all spend a lot of time online doing things like chatting with friends, watching videos, playing games, sharing photos. The internet is a great place to stay connected with people, learn about anything we can think of and let's be honest, we would find life very hard without it! As we spend so much time online it's important that we know what to do if someone is nasty to us online or shares something on the internet that upsets us or makes us feel uncomfortable. Follow our tips below which are quick and easy to make sure you stay safe online...
Our Top Tips if You Are Being Cyberbullied
1. Block the person bullying you
There is always a way to stop the bully from contacting you on social networks, mobile phones, instant messaging and even games consoles. Check out the privacy or safety settings of the service you are using to find out how, or even try searching ‘block’ or ‘abuse’ in the help section. You can also ring up your service provider or network provider who can help you block the abuse.
2. Strong passwords
Make sure for any account you have, you have a strong password that you don’t share with anyone. The best passwords contain numbers and capital letters. This will mean people can’t access your account and steal any information, pictures or personal data or pretend to be you. Change your password regularly and don't have the same one for every account.
3. Keep the evidence
Make sure you save or copy any cyber bullying such as texts or conversations you receive so the necessary people can investigate the bullying. A good way to do this is to press the ‘PrtScrn’ button on the right hand side of the keyboard which prints the screen and you then copy and paste this into a word document or try using Window’s ‘snipping tool’.
4. Choose your online friends carefully
Remember when you accept someone as your friend on instant messaging or social networks, they can access information and pictures you have posted so make sure you are happy for them to see this.
5. Tell someone your trust Cyber bullying can make you make you feel very alone and humiliated. It is really important that you tell someone you trust if you are being cyber bullied so they can support and help you.
6. Report it
Any cyber bullying you suffer should be reported. Whether it is nasty comments, a text message, online chats or group bullying, it is still bullying and is not ok. Make sure you report it to an adult you trust. It is important you feel supported and someone else knows what is happening. If you have blocked the person but it is still continuing, all social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Bebo, ask.fm etc have report abuse buttons, as do most mobile phone networks who have teams to deal with abuse. Games consoles also have advice on their websites.
7. Don’t reply or answer back
Don’t become a cyber bully yourself, deal with the bully by blocking and reporting the abuse. It is sometimes hard not to write back, but it is always best to ignore, block and monitor the situation. Sometimes the people bullying you are looking to get a reaction out of you.
8. What do you want people to know about you?
Check out the privacy settings which will allow you to choose the information you share with people, for example you can set your profile or data to private or only allow certain people to contact you and view particular information. Don’t ever share where you live, your telephone number or email address with cyber-friends.
9. Google your name Even if we don't admit we've all Googled our name at some point to see what comes up! Typing your social media usernames is a really good way to check your privacy settings and check that strangers online can't view any of your personal information.
10. Stay positive Stay positive, things will get better. Do activities which make you feel happy with people who love and appreciate you.
Reporting Abuse on Social Media Sites and Apps
Do You Need to Talk to
Support for anyone based in the UK
ChildLine 0800 1111: get help and advice about a wide range of issues, talk to a counsellor online, send ChildLine an email or post on the message boards: www.childline.org.uk
Support outside the UK
Feeling very down and need to talk to someone? Befrienders will be happy to talk your problems through with you. The Befrienders specialise in talking to people having suicidal thoughts: http://www.befrienders.org/need-to-talk
Samaritans: available 24 hours a day to provide confidential emotional support for people who are experiencing feelings of distress, despair or suicidal thoughts: www.samaritans.org
Childline Ireland: 1800 666 666. If you live in Ireland call Childine to get help and advice about a wide range of issue. Talk to a counsellor online, send an email or post on their message board:
If the cyber bullying is happening at school, it’s important to tell a member of staff and ask them to investigate it.
e.g your mobile phone network or the social network site. Most service providers in the UK have special teams whose job it is to investigate complaints of harassment and abuse so make sure you let them know about what is happening on their service. Check out their website or give them a ring to find out more.
Police (for the UK)
If you feel that the cyber bullying is particularly serious for example continuous intimidation, threats, sexual abuse you should contact your local police as serious cyber bullying activity like this can be a criminal offence under a range of different laws, including:
1. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997
2. The Malicious Communications Act 1988
3. Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003
4. Public Order Act 1986
5. The Defamation Acts of 1952 and 1996.
Advice for Parents/Guardians
General tips and advice
- Make sure you know what websites your child is using.
- Talk to them about how they can stay safe whilst using technology. Make sure they know that they can speak to you if they are ever being bullied.
- Sit down together and look at ways they could report abuse or block certain individuals on different devices.
- Ask them to teach you about social networks, instant messaging etc so that you are more aware about what they are doing online.
- Encourage them to act responsibly when using the technology and talk to them about the dangers of the internet and to be careful about the information they post online.