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Safe internet use

Information for children and young people

Remember that the internet is a public place - you have to be careful who you trust out there!

  • Be careful about sites that ask for lots of personal details, you never know where that information goes. Never give out personal bank information or details.
  • Be aware that the people you're talking to might not be who they say they are. A person may appear friendly and trustworthy but they may not be.
  • It's safer to make your social media profiles private by changing your 'privacy settings' or 'account settings'. This means only your friends can see what's in your profile. You'll still be able to get friend requests, but you're less likely to be pestered by strangers.
  • Never arrange to meet with people alone - always take a friend or trusted adult and always arrange to meet in a public place.
  • Remember that you're in control.  If someone starts talking to you about things like sex or anything else that makes you feel uncomfortable, all you have to do to end the conversation is log out.  Then let an adult know what's happened.
  • Remember that once you share photographs with another person then you lose control of them. Never share any photographs that might be embarrassing or upsetting for you or other people if they were to be made public.
  • Always use a nickname instead of your real name.  For example, instead of 'Mark_Smith', choose something unusual like "Sk8King_21".  
  • If you see anything on a website that upsets you, turn off the screen and tell an adult you trust
  • Avoid opening pop-ups as much as possible.
  • Think before you post! Respect other people and don't post anything which might upset or embarrass other people.
  • If you see abuse - report it!

Information for parents, carers and practitioners

Things for parents and carers to consider...

  • Set some ground rules. This is especially important when your child first starts using social media. It is a good idea to discuss with your child what is and what is not allowed. For example, you may allow them to have an Instagram account but only if the account is private and your child only accepts friends they know in real life.
  • Know how to use the safety tools and privacy settings. Talk to your child about how to find blocking and reporting tools and privacy settings on the apps that they are using . You should also make sure your child knows how - and how not - to treat other people online. Something that seems like a harmless joke to one group of friends could end up really hurting someone else.
  • Report any concerning contact. Make sure that your child knows that it is important to make you aware of any upsetting or inappropriate contact that is made with them online. Similarly, if they witness anything concerning, they should make you aware of it. Report any concerns you might have regarding inappropriate contact or approaches made to your child.
  • Bullying behaviour . Some people do use social media specifically to bully others. Fortunately, the majority of major social media platforms come with tools for blocking other users and reporting abuse. If your child is subject to bullying behaviour online;
  • Tell your child not to respond to any communication they receive, and as a parent, do not respond to anything you might see.
  • Block the other person.
  • Report the comments or behaviours using the tools in the platform.
  • Keep a copy of any concerning comments
  • If the problem continues and escalates, or if threats are received, seek advice from Police Scotland.
  • Keep the conversation going and stay involved. Talk to your child about the apps they are using and their general online activity, in the same way that you would monitor their offline world.

Further information and advice

  • The Child Exploitation and On-line Protection Centre (CEOP) works with child protection partners across the UK and overseas to identify and detect threats to children and young people.
  • Web surfers who see any illegal images on the internet can report this to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).
  • Internet Matters is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to help parents and carers keep children safe in the digital world.
  • Parentzone is an online safety guide for families which contains information and advice covering a wide range of issues and concerns.
  • Childline - Information and advice for children and young people
  • Childnet - Information, advice and resources for children, young people, parents and professionals
  • BBC Own It - Help, advice, information and support for young people
Last modified on 17 August 2022

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