The web’s a great place to have fun, make friends and find out information. But it’s also a good place for criminals to gain access to your computer. So all you have to do is follow a few simple rules.
Never tell anyone your real name or address
Unfortunately, there’s no way of knowing if online users are who they say they are so it’s vital that you never tell anyone your real name, your home address or your school. When you join chatrooms or mailing lists, register with a username that doesn’t give away your name, age or address. So don’t pick Susie13, try something anonymous like brainiac or musicfan.
Use a separate email account for the web
If you join mailing lists or sign up for newsletters, use a different email address. This is because email address lists are more likely to be used by spammers and con artists sending unwanted emails – some of them with viruses that could damage your computer. If you receive unwanted mail, make sure you tell a responsible adult and NEVER open an attachment from someone you don’t know, as this is the most common way of sending computer viruses. Never give your private email address to anyone you don’t know and trust.
Only use moderated chatrooms
Some adults use chatrooms as a way of meeting children. To do this they pretend to be your friend before arranging to meet up. The easiest way to keep safe is to use moderated chatrooms where a trained administrator keeps an eye on users, and makes sure someone isn’t trying to pass themselves off as a kid when they’re not.
Never meet an online friend on your own
Even if you’ve been chatting to someone for ages, you can never be sure that they are who they say they are. So if you arrange to meet them, make sure it’s in a public place (NEVER invite them to your home, and NEVER go to theirs) and ALWAYS tell someone, and ALWAYS get a responsible adult to accompany you.
Don’t respond to bullies
If you receive emails or instant messages from someone who upsets you, don’t reply to them. Bullies get a kick out of making people miserable, so the quickest way for them to stop is if they don’t know if they’ve hurt you. Just ignore any threats and don’t respond to emails from strangers. If the abuse persists, don’t suffer in silence: make sure you confide in someone at home or school who can reassure you.
If something upsets you, tell someone
Whether you get an abusive email, come across a website that confuses or upsets you, or you accidentally download a virus – always ask for help. Talk your concerns over with your family or your teachers.
Don’t spend too long online!
This may sound daft, but limiting the time you spend online can help keep any problems you have in perspective. If you fall out with a web buddy, at least you’ll still have your real friends to talk to. And the less you use the web, the less likely it is that you’ll pick up a virus!