Computers and mobile phones are wonderful ways of exploring, learning, meeting new people, sharing, finding help, and communicating. But they can also be used by other people to do you harm, steal your identity, obtain private information or bully you.

Surf the net safely

The internet is a great place for information, games, etc, but remember that can become dot.con! Get clued up on internet scams, pop-ups, viruses, hijacks, etc, and pick up tips on how to surf safely.

You're online right now reading this

A Guide to Rough Times points you to all kinds of other online sites and helplines, so the chances are you will also be using your computer or phone if you contact them. Many of them invite you to Facebook pages, to watch Youtube videos, or to follow them on twitter.

We think GTRT should also help you know how to stay safe while you do

This isn't just a load of boring rules, or adults wanting to spoil your fun. Why should you worry? Because there are some people out there who will bully you or abuse you, people who pretend to be be someone they are not, adults pretending to be teenagers, and people who just get a kick out of knowing your business. It's hard to tell who they are at first.  

Think it can't happen to you?

Take a look at ChildNet to see personal stories of what can go wrong from other people who didn't see the danger.

Ask the experts

Thinkuknow is a great site which has videos and games as well as all the information you need :

  • to test what you think you know about using the internet and mobile phones
  • to find out what you really need to know about staying safe online and by phone
  • to find out what to do if things go wrong, and who to tell.

ChildNet covers every type of online or phone interaction. They also have quizzes to help you make good decisions, and encourage you to look out for your mates as well as yourself.

Kidsmart ask "What's your favourite thing to do online?" and invite you to learn more about the internet and being a SMART surfer.

 Ctech  provides a Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators about how to protect a child’s privacy online. 

Hacking, identity theft and viruses

stolen identityIt can be really annoying and sometimes upsetting to have one of your accounts hacked into including having your identity stolen or get a virus on your computer.

Thinkuknow gives advice on strong passwords, how to try to stop hacking and viruses, and if you are fed up of popups, a game about knowing how to stop them.

Watch their video about internet safety:

If you think someone has hacked into your Facebook account (for example someone is posting things in your profile) Childline tell you what to do. You should also visit to report it.  If your Twitter account is compromised they will send you a message like this : "Twitter believes that your account may have been compromised by a website or service not associated with Twitter. We've reset your password to prevent others from accessing your account. You'll need to create a new password for your Twitter account. You can select a new password at this link: etc. As always, you can also request a new password from our password-resend page: Please don't reuse your old password and be sure to choose a strong password (such as one with a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols). In general, be sure to:

  • Always check that your browser's address bar is on a website before entering your password. Phishing sites often look just like Twitter, so check the URL before entering your login information!
  • Avoid using websites or services that promise to get you lots of followers. These sites have been known to send spam updates and damage user accounts.
  • Review your approved connections on your Applications page at If you see any applications that you don't recognize, click the Revoke Access button.

For more information, visit our help page for hacked or compromised accounts.The Twitter Team"


This is when someone obsessively follows you and invades your privacy  In extreme cases it turns nasty and turns violent. Computers and mobile phones allow someone being a pest online to go beyond bullying, following you, and invading your privacy and in extreme cases it spills over into real life and indeed violence. If you are worried that someone is stalking you find out whether what they are doing is dodgy or not - NSS Network for Surviving Stalking has loads of sensible information to help you decide and now what to do about it whether it is in real life or online. Digital is run by a digital safety expert and spells out exactly what can happen and how to prevent it or deal with it. There's stuff on there you might never have imagined anyone could do just by getting or guessing your password. Beware of anyone who knows your details and who might want to hurt you if you are no longer friends, controlling members of your own family, and ex boyfriends or girlfriends.

Learn how to deal with spam email by playing the Spam Swatter game.

Can you tell what is a safe email before you open it? Take the thinkuknow quiz, and take note of what Twitter said (in bold type) about checking the URL for any site before entering your password. Sites pretending to be online banking, and paypal for instance are frequently used as phishing devices to get you to log in with a password.

Social networking and media profiles

Even if you're already using social media, like facebook or Bebo, there may be a lot you don't know or haven't thought about yet.

Is your profile safe? An online profile can give away more private informtion than you think including to people you wouldn't want to have it. Thinkuknow gives advice on creating and keeping safe profiles, strong passwords, privacy settings and more.

Childline's video "How to stay safe online" (above) is in sign language with subtitles, about what to put on social media and stay safe.

They also give good advice on creating safe profiles and whether it is safe to meet someone you chat to online. Thinkuknow's video shows what might happen if you think you know the person you are meeting - and how to report them if you got it wrong.


Childline explain what you need to know about having a Timeline on Facebook and how it affects your privacy settings, making it much more important to understand what other people can see about you and how to manage your privacy.

If things don't go as planned, thinkuknow can also help if things go wrong such as

  • Dealing with weirdos
  • Putting stuff online you shouldn't
  • Seeing things you wish you hadn't
  • Being pressured to do things you don't want to

Their video "consequences" is about how easy it could be for someone to find out all about you and misuse that information, and what to do if that happened to you:  

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre(CEOP) offer help and advice about online safety.

Have you seen its symbol on the sites you use?

If you use social networking areas or other sites offering chat or contact with online buddies then look for it. Use it as a one stop way to report any activity which makes you feel uncomfortable. For example, this could be a conversation with someone online who you think might be an adult and is talking to you in a sexually explicit way or who is trying to meet you for sex.

CEOP are there to take action to protect you, not to get you into trouble.

If you've seen something online which bothers you and you think may be illegal, it should be reported to the Internet Watch Foundation who will contact the police if necessary.

IM and chat

The ASL Files is a fun way to understand what can go wrong and why, and what to do about it.

Who's ya buddy? makes you think about how friends of friends may not be your friends at all - or even who they say they are.

Thinkuknow warn you about people using false identities and what information you share, tell you how to block people, and that saving conversations can be used as evidence if something weird or dodgy happens.

File-sharing and downloading

Thinkuknow explain what to watch out for so you don't get more than you bargained for - like a nasty virus, some unwanted porn, or something which is against the law!


Thinkuknow have advice on keeping your number secure, and the safety implications for camera phones, bluetoothing, and GPS - did you know that if you use GPS people may be able to see where you AND your contacts are, unless you get your privacy settings right?

Childline have general advice on safely using a mobile phone, inlcuding using a PIN code to lock it.

Sexting, cyberbullying and sexual abuse

Sexting is when someone sends or receives a sexually explicit text, image or video on their mobile phone, usually in a text message.

This is just another form of bullying if you didn't want it, and it is also sexual abuse.

Watch other young people talking about it on their video :

Childline tell you what to do and how to report it to CEOP if you have received something which was unwelcome, and what to do if you have sent something you wish you hadn't - especially if someone has reposted it.

cyberbullyingBullying can happen online, by text or unwanted calls.

Thinkuknow explain what cyberbullying is and what you can do about it. are there to help if you are being cyberbullied.

Childline have a list of numbers to call your phone provider if you are being bullied by text or phone.

See also the GTRT page on bullying for reassurance that this happens to lots of other people and can be dealt with. If you realise that you have been doing something which is really cyberbullying, get help to stop - see the GTRT page being a bully.

Sexual Abuse can happen in many ways.

Thinkuknow explain what sexual abuse is, including when it is happening online or by phone, and give advice on when things go wrong in terms of seeing things you wish you hadn't, misuse of photos of yourself, and being pressured to do things you don't want to.


If you are involved in playing games online, remember that there are the same risks in terms of keeping your details private, and other players not being who they say they are in order to meet young people and potentially harm or exploit them. Know what to look out for including how to choose suitable game activity by knowing the ratings symbols.

They also advise you to keep a balance between the world online and real life.

Sites that encourage harm

Believe it or not there, are sites which actually try to encourage eating disorders, and even suicide. Find out how to avoid these sites and who to report them to.

If you or someone you know is in danger of being influenced by these, talk to Childline  0800 1111 or The Samaritans. 08457 90 90 90.

Find help and information on GTRT's eating disorders page, and life is not worth living if you are starting to have suicidal thoughts. Get immediate professional help if you are badly affected.

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The page was last updated on 15 November 2017 by aji.kuriakose.

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