Staying safe online

Boring, boring, boring - what do you know about chat rooms, the web, social networking?

Probably not very much, but we do know about adults who want to harm children. What we don't want to do is to stop your enjoyment when using computers; we just want to make sure you're safe.

Here are a few tips:

(acknowledgement to the BBC for the following guide)

Staying safe in chatrooms or social networking sites

• If you're asked for a screen name to use in a chatroom use a nickname - never your real name.
• If you're in a chatroom and you start feeling uncomfortable about what someone's saying, get out of there and tell an adult.
• People may not be who they say they are.
• If you get an e-mail telling you not to tell your parents about it, don't reply and tell an adult straight away.

What info can't I give out?

Unless you have an adult's permission never ever give out:
• Your real name
• Your home, school or e-mail address
• Your phone number
• A photo of yourself
• Your parents' credit card details

Can I meet people on the web in person?

Never ever meet anyone you've met over the internet without a parent's/guardian's permission and even then, make sure you have an adult with you.

What if I'm asked to register?

If a website asks you to register with them and you have to fill out an e-mail form, always ask for an adult's opinion.

Very often, the website is just trying to sell you something.

Do passwords keep you safe?

• Only if you keep them completely secret.
• Don't even tell your best friend.
• Try not to use names of your family or pets because people can guess them quite easily.
• Use a mix of letters and numbers instead.

Can I block unwanted e-mail?

Spam, or unwanted e-mails, make up half of all e-mails sent around the world. They are usually meant for adults and can be upsetting.

But you don't have to accept it or put up with them. There is special software which can stop spam getting into your inbox. Speak to your parents about the software if you are at all worried.

Most internet and e-mail companies, like Yahoo and AOL, have some sort of system in place to block spam, and they are working to get better systems all the time. If you need any more information about what they can do, e-mail them for help.

What is private chat?

This is using part of a chatroom or social networking site where other people can't see what you're saying. Never agree to a private chat with someone unless you already know them face-to-face, in real life.

You can also have private chats on "instant messaging". It is best only to do this with people you already know in real life.

If you get to a chatroom through instant messaging, remember to follow the same safety rules you would use if you were chatting anywhere else.

For more information please click on the following links

ThinkUknow - find the latest information on the sites you like to visit, mobiles and new technology. Find out what’s good, what’s not and what you can do about it.

KidSmart - An award winning practical internet safety programme website for schools, young people, parents, and agencies, produced by the children's internet charity Childnet International.

BBC Webwise - making the most of being online!