This section of our website contains advice on the use of caution whilst online by you and your friends. We want to help you learn what to do should you run into inappropriate content on the internet and how to keep safe when communicating online with different people that you may or may not know, when playing online games, and when using cell phones. This will help you and your friends to stay safe when using the internet and equip you with all the knowledge in case you encounter anything bad or age inappropriate that frightens you.
When talking to strangers online through different applications, try not to give out your personal information. Of course you can specify the country or the city in which you live, but never give out other personal information that can be used to identify you or your exact address. If someone ever attempts to get hold of your personal information such as your name and surname, your home address, or your phone number, inform your parents or your guardian in order to prevent this occurrence.
Some people whom you meet online may not be who they say they are. It is very easy for people to hide behind a fake profile when they are chatting, so do not evermeet with people you have known only online.
Some people you meet online may not be who they claim they are, therefore it is advisable to make sure that you personally know all people in your contact list.
If you receive a request from someone asking to add you to their contact list and you do not know that person, it is recommended that you do not accept this friend request, because you do not know him and you do not know why he/she wants to add you to his/her contact list. Additionally, it recommended that you do not use your picture in your profile on the “instant messaging” application. Instead, you can use a picture of an animal, music band, or the application’s template pictures.
Most of the applications similar to “instant messaging” on the internet offer the possibility of using web cameras so that you can see your friends when talking to them online. You should be very careful with webcams because there may be unknown persons in your contact list who may not necessarily be there with a good intention.
Electronic messages (E-mail)
Sometimes you’ll receive electronic messages (email) from unknown sendersas well. Yet, it is important to keep in mind that whenever you receive an electronic message from a person you do not know, you should never open it because it may contain “viruses” which will damage your computer, or files with inappropriate content or images thatcan distress you. In such cases, always inform your parents so that they can check whether the message from an unknown sender should be opened or not.
Nowadays there are various programs for sending bulk messages to numerous recipients by email, with the intention of collecting personal information about the recipients who open these messages and reply to them. The personal information which is collected this way can be used for all kinds of purposes by unknown persons and, therefore, it is always recommended that the messages received from an unknown sender are immediately deleted.
If you use your e-mail to share photos with friends and family, never do this with strangers. If you are considering sending your pictures to a person you have met in social networking sites or during online chatting, remember that the person may be hiding behind a fake name and could misuse your pictures, so do not send them in orderto prevent this.
Use of cell phones is another fun way of keeping in touch with friends and family, either by placing calls to them or exchanging text messages. It is recommended that you share your cell phone number only with people you know, so that you don’t receive bothersome phone calls or messages from unfamiliar people. Sometimes you can receive messages from strangers, with content that may be shocking for you, but never respond to these messages and immediately inform your parents or your guardian in order to put an end to this. In these cases, always remember the cell phone number you received the disturbing messages from, and if you receive a call from this number never answer it.
In order to avoid these situations, the best thing to do is to never give your phone number to people you do not know. This advice should be followed during internet use too: if strangersask for your cell phone number never give it to them, and do not meet with strangers you have met online or through your cell phone. Remember that you do not know that person and that harm could come to you should you decide to meet with him.
If you are a fan of chat rooms for talking with your friends, always use a short version of your name or a nickname so that you cannot be identified by strangers. You can tell your short name or nickname to your friends or other people that you know, so that they can identify you, but you should not make this information public.
Protecting your personal data is paramount in order to prevent any potential risks that can come from strangers while you are communicating online. If you receive a messages from a stranger, do not answer it, nor begin a conversation, because all he will want is to get hold of more personal information about you for reasons you will never know. In these situations, it is always recommended that you inform your parents so that they handle the issue.
Social networking sites
Social networking sites are all web-based services, so any personal information that you post on themis visible to everyone. We therefore recommend that you do NOT make the below listed personal information public:
- Never give your true full name, it is suggested that you use a short version of your name or a nickname;
- Your personal or your family’s picture
- Your age
- Your mobile phone number
- Your email address
- Your address
Some strangers may attempt to become friends with your in social networks so that they can access your pictures and personal information. These people may be hiding behind a fake identity and there is no way you can verify their identity. The best way of avoiding contact with these strangers is to never add or accept a person you do not know.
In order to protect your information, all social networking sites provide the possibility of customizing the privacy settings for your personal profile, by limiting access of people outside your network so they cannot see the additional information in your profile. Allowing a stranger to access your website is not a good idea – you do not want a stranger to know so many things about you! If someone you do not know asks you to be your friend, tell this to an adult in your family immediately.
Downloading from internet
Internet downloading can get you in trouble. Some pages offer free music, pictures or games. But most of these pages that offer free materials do it to spread different viruses. If you download music, movies, programs or games from unfamiliar pages, there is always a possibility that you will install more viruses on your computer which can damage your computer and contain inappropriate images for your age.
The best thing you can do in this case is to ask from an adult in your family to download what you want, in order to avoid getting in trouble.
When you are playing a game, either online or one installed on your computer, you can feel that you must win or pass on to the next level at all costs.It is important for you to understand that it’s just a game, a fun activity where you sometimes win and sometimes lose. There is nothing wrong with losinga game, in point of fact loosing makes you better at it because you begin to understand the game strategy better. When you play online games you should be careful regardless of whether you are winning or losing, not to disturb or insult anyone on the internet that is playing with you.
It is best if you use a nickname or a short version of your nameinstead of your real when you use gaming sites. There will always be people from all over the world playing games in these game sites who you don’t know. Therefore, you should exercise appropriate caution whilst online.
Cyber bullying is an English term which is used to describe situations where people use the internet to threat, harass or humiliate someone, by sending inappropriate messages, pictures, or shocking videos to strangers. There are many forms of cyber bullying, but these are the most frequent ones:
- Sending threatening or disturbing emails (e.g. insulting and racist messages or messages showing other prejudices);
- Sending or posting gossips to friends or directly to the victim;
- Posting in social networks — e.g. of someone else’s secrets (e.g. on Facebook or Twitter);
- Insulting children by labelling them with different nicknames through messages, communication in chat, posting in Facebook etc.;
- Sending or posting other people’s pictures without their permission (usually intimidating or personal pictures) on the internet;
- Creating specific profiles or web pages on the internet, by targeting an individual or a specific group of children so that they could tease or insult them.
It is important to remember that in case you receive messages with such content you should respond to them and that the only solution is to ignore the message and delete it immediately. Nevertheless, in such cases you should inform an adult of your family so that they can find a way to help you.