Being safer online
There are lots of places online where you can meet new people. It’s part of the fun of the Internet. It’s important to think about who has access to us online as this gives them access to our digital footprint and that of our friends and family.
When you get a new device or sign up for a new website or app check your privacy preferences. Most apps and websites will have a section marked "privacy" or "settings".
- Opt out of things such as location sharing and the ability for the app or website to post to social media sites such as Facebook on your behalf
- Only allow your friends and family to see your posts
Some sites don’t have privacy settings. In some games you might be viewed with suspicion if you set everything to private, you may want to meet new people and make it easy for others to find you eg if you are trying to sell/promote things or get lots of likes. Be aware that what you say or post is public. Never share your personal information such as your phone number, address or school as this can make it easier for a stranger to locate you in the real world.
To find out about the privacy settings for the particular website or app you can Google "[App or website name] privacy settings".
Not everyone on the internet is who they say they are. People can use your information to locate you, steal your identity, use the information for fraudulent purposes or to gain your trust and friendship. People can make fake profiles even using using photos of celebrities to trick you.
What makes someone a friend?
- They care about you
- They are trustworthy
- They are honest
- They are dependable
- Being around them makes you feel good
- They are loyal
- They have empathy for you
- They are non-judgmental of you
- They are a good listener
- They have things in common with you
The important thing about being friends is that a friend accepts you for you and has your best interests at heart. A true friend would not make you do anything you did not want to do.
Grooming and manipulation
There are some people who will deliberately do things to gain your trust so they can exploit you and particularly to get you to do sexual things. It’s not always strangers who try to coerce young people into sharing sexual things. It may also be someone you know and maybe even someone you trust.
The people who do this are known as child sex offenders or paedophiles and they do this to satisfy their own selfish needs. They give no thought about the impact or outcomes their actions might have on their victims.
They often share sexual material with others, even if they’ve promised to keep them private.
The process they use to trick young people is called grooming or manipulation.
Jayden and Drew’s story
My name is Jayden, I'm 15. Me and my friend Drew do rap songs. This guy on chat named Lee said he could get us a record deal.
We checked out his website and it all looked legit so we sent him our info and one of our songs. Lee seemed really cool and we chatted every day. He was really easy to talk to about anything, including stuff we could never talk to our parents about.
We became really good friends and he was just always there to talk to if we ever had any problems or just wanted to hang out. He even showed us how to get free porn but made us swear not to tell anyone ‘cause, if our parents knew they’d take our computers and phones away.
Well, long story short I just found out Drew sent Lee some pics of himself that he probably shouldn't have. Now he wants Drew to go on web cam and do stuff he doesn't want to do. Drew made me swear not to tell because if we tell our parents they'll kill us and will never let us on the computer again.
If we tell the police Lee said we'd both go to jail because of the porn and those pics Drew sent. Because of the stuff we sent him with our songs, Lee says he knows where we live and will come around and get us or hurt our families if Drew doesn't go on cam soon.
We don’t know what to do.
People like Lee are very skilled at tricking others into doing what they want. There are 6 behaviours involved in grooming.
|Target the victim||
Using chat rooms, game chat, social media
Help you with a game, give advice
|Filling a need||
Working out young person’s vulnerabilities and exploiting them
|Isolating the target||
Creating conflict between young person and parents/carers/others
|Sexualising the relationship||
Sending a fake nude, asking a young person to send a nude, accessing porn, asking about your sexual experiences
Blackmail, manipulation, threats
What things might someone do to gain your trust?
- Be easy to talk to/have things in common
- Appear to be someone desirable (famous, cool, cute, fun)
- Help them with a game, offer advice
- Fit in and be part of the gang
- Do something to gain status like have expensive equipment, be able to do things others can’t like buy things with their own credit card or have special privileges
It’s nearly impossible to completely guarantee our privacy online which is why it is so important to manage your digital footprint and reputation.
What things might you like to keep private?
- Phone number
- Street address
- Where your parents work
- Where you go to school
- Financial information
- Your exact location
- Pictures of yourself
- Intimate habits, thoughts or feelings (such as a secret crush, what you are most afraid of, what you most hate about yourself)