Online dangers to watch out for
Tips to help you work, play and communicate safely online.
Your digital footprint
The internet is unforgiving and unforgetting. There’s little that you can ‘undo’ when it comes to things you post online.
Comments you make, images you upload and posts you share can come back to haunt you later in life. In the heat of the moment it’s easy to say something before having a chance to think it through. That single comment could cost you a job or damage your reputation later in life. Your digital footprint can’t be easily erased, if at all.
How to avoid creating a negative digital footprint
Before you post anything publicly, take a deep breath and ask yourself: “Could I regret this down the track?”, “Is this really me?”, or “Would I say this in person, or in front of an audience?” If there’s any doubt in your mind, a good rule is not to hit ‘enter’.
Cyberbullying is using technology to deliberately and repeatedly bully someone else. Cyberbullying can be particularly difficult if you aren’t able to escape it, even at home.
Cyberbullying can include:
- abusive texts and emails
- posting unkind messages or images
- imitating others online
- excluding others online
- inappropriate image tagging.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying affects many young people across Australia. One in 5 young people have been bullied online.
If you experience cyberbullying, the eSafety website has excellent advice on what to do and who to talk to.
How to deal with it
The best way to deal with cyberbullying is not to respond or get directly involved. Instead take screenshots, gather evidence of the bullying and report it..
If the bullying material involves sexualised images of people under 18, saving or sharing such images may be a crime even if you have just taken a screenshot for evidence purposes.
Catfishing is when someone uses a fake identity in order to scam, defraud or manipulate someone else. They will usually use social media and make up an entire persona, with photos and a complex life story. They do this to trick people into giving them money, gifts or compromising images.
You should be wary of any stranger that approaches you on social media. If they seem to know a lot about you, chances are that it’s not a coincidence. If they seem suspicious, search their name online and see what comes up, including any other social media accounts they have.
How to deal with a suspected catfish
If someone doesn’t seem to exist elsewhere online, they’re avoiding audio and video contact or asking for money or inappropriate photos, it’s best to stop all contact and report them to the platform, your school or police if necessary.
If you’re feeling anxious or upset about something that someone online has asked you to do, speak to an adult you trust.
Social media pressure
There are some great things about social media. For example, it helps you stay connected with friends and family. It also helps you discover new ideas, projects and like-minded people and groups.
However, it can also be easy to get caught up in it. This can lead to you comparing your own life to others. Remember that social media is often highly stylised. People will present the best photos and images of themselves.
It’s also easy to feel like you have to be connected all the time and this can lead to stress.
How to deal with social media pressure
If it gets too much, take a break from it. The eSafety Commissioner’s advice is to unfollow accounts that make you feel upset, anxious or stressed. Turn off your notifications and talk to an adult you trust if you’re starting to feel this way.
Identity fraud and identity protection
The web has become increasingly sophisticated in capturing your personal information. This can lead to anything from unwanted spam to hacking and identity fraud.
To protect your identity online you should always:
- Set strong and unique passwords for each account.
- Avoid phishing scams by not clicking on any links from an account you’re not sure of.
- Delete or manage your cookies so you’re not leaving a trail of personal information across the web.
- Don’t use your social media accounts to log in to any apps, websites or online services.
- Limit what personal information you share online.
- Avoid wi-fi hotspots when doing something personal or financial online.
- Use privacy settings and controls when they are offered on the sites you visit.
How to find support
If you're having a tough time and need someone to talk to, call or chat to someone at Kids Helpline.
Kids Helpline gives young people aged 5 to 25 free phone and online counselling support.
- Call and chat service operates 24/7
- Ph: 1800 551 800
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