Do you take care of your online reputation? Do you stop and think before you click, send, post or comment? Take a look at the advice below and you won't go far wrong.
The small print
Yes it's boring, but important: read the small print before signing up to a service. We don't sign a contract in real life without reading it, same goes for online. The services and settings on sites are always changing and being updated, don't get caught out by blindly accepting the terms & conditions or letting some dodgy app have access to your profile. If you're under 18 be honest about your age, some services have tighter security built in for their younger users, it's there to help you, not prevent you doing stuff online.
Keep it to yourself
It might seem obvious but keep the personal details to a minimum, be careful about what and where you reveal information. This includes your full name, address, date of birth, school, phone numbers, email addresses, photos, videos, bank details, and your location - so that's pretty much everything really!
Who knows what?
Okay, so you've got the right settings on and mum can't see that photo of you at the party looking a sorry state. But just take a moment to think about who knows what about you. Should the friends that you've met online but never met in person have the same access to information as those you've met in real life? Ultimately it's up to you about how cautious you want to be but it's worth thinking about.
Show your good side
You'd be surprised how much can be found out about a person by doing a bit of digging online and piecing it together - do an internet search on yourself. Are you happy with everything you've found? More importantly, how would a university tutor, future employer or potential boyfriend/girlfriend feel about your comments, photos or videos? Don't jeopardise that dream job or your first choice university by a careless comment or forgotten post. Make sure 'Brand You' is the best it can be and it's a good idea to keep your personal and professional personas and contacts separate.
What goes online stays online. More or less everything can be re-posted so stop and think about that university tutor or future employer again. Who has access to your stuff and do you trust them to be careful with your reputation? Keep it current too - go back and clean up or delete those old accounts on sites and services you've grown out of, they may not represent the person you are now.
It's not just about being careful with your own info, it's also important to take care of the reputations of others too. Try not to get drawn into negative conversations about your mates, teachers, classmates, colleagues or bosses. It's always a good idea to check with people that they're happy for you to post images of them. Being careless with emails, texts, photos and videos could have some awful consequences - like falling out with friends and family, bullying, expulsion from school, getting sacked or identity theft.
Keep it under wraps
Addicted to checking your messages? Constantly texting? Most of the time it's harmless fun but don't feel pressurised into taking, sending or forwarding messages or images of a sexually explicit nature (of yourself or anyone else). Think before you send or post - do you trust the recipient? As soon as you press send you've lost complete control of where these images may end up. Be aware that it's illegal to take, possess or share indecent images of under 18s.
Where am I?
Some sites and services automatically update your location, showing where you are at any time of the day. Useful when meeting up with your mates or you're a bit lost, but again, keep an eye on the settings as anyone can find out where you are and this could potentially put you in danger.
Help I've over-shared
If things do go wrong, firstly don't panic. These things happen. Secondly don't suffer in silence. Talk to your friends, parents, teacher or someone you trust who can support you. If you can, delete the content yourself or ask the person who posted it to take it down. You can go to the school or college for help if you're being bullied; the provider of the service should help if the rules of that service have been broken; and if it's really serious you can go to the police to report something that you think may be illegal.
There are lots of organisations that provide information and advice. Take a look at the following sites:
Think you know
Sections on what's new online, how to have fun and stay in control
Shows how to avoid sticky situations when using IM, games, email and mobiles.
Shows how to behave responsibly online
BBC Radio 1
If you're being bullied take a look at our advice pages on bullying.
Aiming to create a world where bullying, violence and harassment are unacceptable - offers help and advice
This BBC site has a useful section covering privacy, security and child safety.
Practical and simple info on computer security, written by young people for young people
Start by contacting the person or content provider responsible or your service provider may help. You can go to the police to report something that you think may be illegal or the following organisations can help with specific issues:
Counselling service for children and young people which has a page on the site offering advice on online safety.
If you're under 18 and experienced sexual or offensive chat online which has made you feel uncomfortable or suspicious you can report this directly to the CEOP Centre by using the ClickCEOP button which can be found on CEOP's main website.
Internet Watch Foundation
The UK's hotline for reporting illegal content found on the internet. It deals specifically with child abuse and criminally obscene images.
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