Be careful when sharing personal information online. Only use websites you trust. Personal information includes:
- full name
- date of birth
This information can be used to steal your identity or to find you in the real world. Identity theft is where someone pretends to be you. They might shop online spending your money, or take out loans in your name.
Status updates, comments and photos
Where possible, limit access to your social media profiles to family and friends. Do not post inappropriate status updates, comments or photos online. You might not want certain people, such as potential employers, to gain access to them.
Social networking sites also frequently change their privacy policies. This means that the way your information is used can change, a danger which often draws criticism.
False information and unsuitable content
The internet is a great source of information but some of it is incorrect, out of date or biased. Always check multiple sources, ie other websites or written material, to confirm what you’ve read is correct.
No one is in charge of the internet so anyone can post or publish anything to it. Some content may be unsuitable. Websites that you can trust include those from:
- the Government – if the address has ‘gov.uk’ in it, it’s a UK Government website
- the National Health Service (NHS) – if the address has ‘nhs.uk’ in it, it’s an NHS website
- the Police – the official website is www.police.uk
- the BBC – all of the BBC’s websites have ‘bbc.co.uk’ in their address
Wikipedia is an online encyclopaedia that anyone can edit. It has its pros and cons. It’s full of useful, up-to-date information, but because anyone can edit it, it’s easily abused.
Know who you’re talking to
Email, instant messaging, social networking sites and video chat are great for keeping in touch with family and friends, but make sure you know who you’re talking to. People may not be who they claim to be. They might try to get personal information from you or ask you to do something that makes you uncomfortable. Others may try to wind you up or be unnecessarily aggressive. This is called trolling and flaming.
Ignore emails and friend requests from people you don’t know and try to avoid meeting people you meet on the internet in real life. If you do decide to, take an adult with you, meet them in a crowded public space and always let a second adult know where you are.
Spam email and phishing
Nearly everyone has an email address. An email is a useful tool at home and in work…