Social networks are ways of bringing people together using technology to informally (‘socially’) communicate (‘network’). There are loads of social networks out there and you should be a certain age to use some of them.
Lots of social networks have privacy settings which are tools that you can use to help control who sees the information that you share online. Most social networks also have ‘report abuse’ and ‘block’ tools to help you take control of how others behave towards you.
Any information you share online like photos, videos or comments can stay online for a very long time. When you share something online other people can copy it which means that they then have control of it. This means that even if you delete something you’ve shared, someone else might have it.
Reporting and blocking
If you’re using social networks find out how you can report and block people. If someone is doing or saying something that you don’t like or if they’re making you feel scared or uncomfortable, it’s up to you what you do depending on how you feel, but you can report them online, save the evidence, block them and tell an adult you trust.
Remember that you can choose your online and offline friends. If you don’t want to be friends with someone online anymore, remove them from your social networks.
Offline the world is filled with a whole range of people some of them nice, some of them mean, some of them just plain dangerous. Online it’s just the same so it’s smart to be careful when choosing your online friends.
Keeping secrets can be fun but some secrets can be dangerous. If a stranger or a friend you have only met online asks you to keep a secret then you need to tell an adult you trust straight away because they might not be who they say they are. People who respect you will never ask you to keep secrets from other people who are close to you like your friends and family.
Technology means that the things we share online can be seen by lots of people. Information can also be shared really quickly. It’s always smart to think before you post. Ask yourself what could happen if other people like your family or your teachers saw what you were sharing online.
General things to think about for you and your family
Use the tools available to keep your family and your devices safer
Set up parental controls. Some systems have them built in and are free, others you can pay for. You may want to look at several options and decide what’s best for your family.
Keep your technology (including phones) up to date with security software.
Use strong passwords that include letters, numbers and symbols and use different passwords for different accounts.
If you’re using social networks, check out the privacy settings and make sure they are activated.
Report online abuse.
Be careful of what you share online
Read the terms and conditions for social networks. There might be a lot there to read but you could be agreeing to hand over control of your online content if you don’t.
Never share personal information like phone numbers or email addresses online.
Be cautious about the type of information you might be sharing with people you only know online.
Be careful about the types of images you post and share as once they are out there you’ve pretty much lost control of that content.
Use webcams carefully. If you’re talking with people you know and trust offline you may be confident, but remember that webcam ‘conversations’ can always be recorded.
Create a great online reputation
Our children learn things from us so how we as adults behave online affects how our children behave. In terms of your own online reputation, nearly all of the advice for children is relevant for adults.
Search for yourself and members of your family online. This will help you manage what information is available about you in the public domain.
Treat others online as you would like to be treated.
Delete old accounts that you’re no longer using.
Be careful what you share.
Know who you’re sharing information with.
Understand that whatever you share online you might lose control of.
Always report abuse.
General family online safety advice
For general online safety advice we recommend a trip to Get Safe Online.
Staying safer in social networks
- Use privacy settings – they’re there to protect you not restrict you. A guide to setting your privacy settings has been published by ParentInfo
- Some websites ask you to use your real name but you may be able to choose a username too. Use a nickname if you can.
- Avoid using a picture of yourself for your profile – use a picture of something you like instead.
- Don’t include personal details in your profile, like your phone number, your email address or home address.
- Read the small print. For lots of social networks you have to sign up certain things, and some of those things could include rights to share what you’re posting online. Know what you’re signing up for.
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know offline. If you are going to accept them, be very careful about what information you share with them.
- Find out how you can report people on the websites you’re using.
- Block someone if they are being mean or sending you things you don’t like.
- Only ever speak with someone on a webcam if you know and trust them offline.
- Remember that what someone does on a webcam can be recorded.
- Say no to things you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go on a webcam you don’t have to. If someone is cool they’ll respect that.
- Listen to yourself. If a person or situation online doesn’t feel right trust your instincts and speak to someone offline who you trust for advice and help.
- To find out more about staying safe in social networks check out Think You Know and Childline.