Using the internet is a great way for young people to find information, get support and connect with others. As young carers, you can also make contact with other young people who are in a similar situation.
The Online Team is around to make sure young people are kept safe - we moderate the community posts and chatroom on our site. But not all online communities are like this, so it's important to know how you can stay safe online.
Some general advice
Sharing personal information
It’s best not to share personal information online as you can't always be sure who you’re really talking to. Choose usernames that aren't too similar to your real name and think carefully before sharing information about the area you live, phone number, the school you go to or other places, such as clubs and sports centres where you spend time. It’s also a good idea to choose profile pictures carefully as they might be seen by anyone. Maybe you could use an image such as a cartoon character or picture of your favourite band or sports team, rather than one of yourself?
Making friends and connection with people
One tip we’d give is to be careful about adding people online, if you haven’t met them in real life, and it’s good to be careful about how much personal information you share with online friends. Remember: it’s best not to meet anyone in person if you’ve met them online. If someone asks to meet you, always take along an adult you trust and meet somewhere public.
Sharing photos and videos
Sharing images and clips is great – we can let other people know what we’ve been doing and how we feel about the world – where’s the harm in that? Generally, it’s fine! But do stop and think for a minute: would you be happy for your friends and family to see the pictures? What about your teachers and people who you might work for when you’re older? Does it give away more information than you’d like to be sharing? And are the people in the pictures happy for you to be sharing them? It’s important to remember that you can never be sure something has gone from the internet, even after you’ve removed it yourself. Someone could have saved, edited and shared a photo or a clip, even after it has disappeared from something like Snapchat. Also, remember that a photo you took on your mobile or tablet will often have information built into it that tells people exactly where you were when you took it. So, have a look at our section on Location aware services too.
Privacy settings and safety tips
Another great tip is to have a look at the privacy settings and safety advice for the sites and apps you use. Privacy settings should be easy to find and set, so that only people you choose to link up with can see the things you post. Some sites are intended to be public – that means the people who run them want everyone to see everything that’s posted - so it’s good to know at the start what can and can’t be seen by other people. This should help you to decide what information to share. And if a site doesn’t have safety advice, ask yourself this question: do I feel safe using it?
Online gaming sites and apps
Location aware services
Many mobile phones and tablets, (and some computers), can now use GPS, Wi-Fi or the mobile phone network to work out where you are. This that your location could be shared with other people. When using messaging services like Facebook or Twitter, you might choose to “check in” or “add location” to let others know where you are and what you’re doing. Be careful about who you share this information with. Do you want everyone you connect with on these sites to know where you are, at that moment in time? You can edit your privacy settings to give you control over who sees this. Also, it’s worth remembering that, once they’ve been activated, some services, such as Google and Find My Friends (on iPhones) may be automatically sharing information about where you are without you even realising.