Hey guys! :D
I decided to do some research into internet safety recently, as I wanted to see if I could change anything about the way I use the internet myself – even though a large portion of that is spent on YouTube and Twitter and I don’t really buy things online – and I found a lot of information that may be useful to others as well as myself. Below are some of the best tips I found most useful, and which may help some of you to protect yourselves online too.
- Probably the most obvious one – do not give our personal information about yourself to anyone. You may not know who you are talking to, or they may not be what they seem – especially if you are in a chat room or something like that - so make sure you keep all information private, such as your address, full name, passwords, etc. If anyone asks me where I’m from, I generally say either Surrey or London, and do not specify the exact area, for example, as they are both large places. I also do not use my real surname unless I’m doing something business related (although you’d be surprised how many people do believe that my surname is real).
- Another one – do not meet someone from the internet, especially not alone. I have met someone from the internet before, but only after chatting to them a lot over webcam and with lots of phone calls for a long period of time. If you do decide to take the risk, make sure you do the same, and also never meet them alone – always meet up in a crowded, well lit area, and take someone you trust with you, just in case. I did all of the above, and luckily they were who they said they were, but some people may not be so lucky.
- Be careful what content you post online – once it is on the internet, it is really hard to take it down. Be aware that anyone can save pictures or videos of you, so be careful what kind of pictures you post online.
- Following on from that – make your all your accounts have the right amount of privacy. You can block people from seeing your account unless you accept them as a friend, which is especially useful if you have children because then no one will be able to find out information about them unless your child accepts them. Most, if not all, websites now also have the option to block people, delete them or report them as spam. I have blocked and deleted people in the past, whether it’s people I no longer want to associate with, people who have been unnecessarily rude or just people I do not want to have knowing my business.
- If you can – try not to join sites such as ask.fm, which allows people to ask anonymous questions. Of course, you can disable the anonymity, but many people do not, and sites such as that are a marvellous place for cyber bullying to happen. A few years back, I was on another similar site, and the amount of abuse I got was astonishing! Luckily, I had people to back me up and make sure I was okay, and I deleted it for good eventually, but some cases don’t end so well.
- If you have children, you can also put parental control on your computer, and most phones and tablets have the same, so you can block your children from going on certain sites. This can also prevent children from doing something like secretly signing up for facebook even though you’ve said they’re not allowed one until they’re a certain age, for example.
- Make sure you have a good antivirus software installed, and run a scan regularly. It will also block pop ups, and warn you if a site you are trying to access is safe or not. My personal favourite, which I am currently using on my laptop and tablet, is AVG, which is free to download.
- Finally, and this is probably pretty obvious – do not use the same password for everything, never give your password out to anyone else, and do not set your password as “password” or “123456789”, as they are apparently the most common passwords people use. Make sure your password is easy for you to remember, and contains a mixture of upper and lower case letters as well as at least one number.
So there you have it! A few tips and reminders of how to stay safe online. I know I’ve definitely gone through and changed my passwords and updated my privacy since then, and I hope this inspires you to do the same and be safe!