Staying Safe Online

It’s not always easy to know what’s safe online and what’s not. The following sections provide advice which can help you to keep safe and to know what to do when things go wrong.

Online safety – guide for parents

Online safety – guide for learners

You can report any issue by using the Report a Concern Form which will be sent to the Safeguarding Team.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online. Unlike bullying in the real world, online bullying can follow the child wherever they go, via social networks, gaming and mobile phone.


Cyberbullying can include:

  • sending threatening or abusive text messages
  • creating and sharing embarrassing images or videos
  • trolling – the sending of menacing or upsetting messages on social networks, chat rooms or online games
  • excluding children from online games, activities or friendship groups
  • shaming someone online
  • setting up hate sites or groups about a particular child
  • encouraging young people to self-harm
  • voting for or against someone in an abusive poll
  • creating fake accounts, hijacking or stealing online identities to embarrass a young person or cause trouble using their name
  • sending explicit messages, also known as sexting
  • pressuring children into sending sexual images or engaging in sexual conversations


Tips to help

  • Bullying is never your fault
  • You can report and block people who bully you online
  • Don't share or comment on bullying posts
  • Tell an adult you trust, like a teacher, to help stop the bullying
  • Things can change. And there are ways you can build your confidence


Most websites and apps have rules against bullying and harassment, and can help if it's happening to you or someone you know. 

If you've seen or experienced bullying on social media, it's important to: 

  • report what's happened on the site or app
  • block the people bullying you
  • take screenshots of nasty messages, but don't reply to them
  • tell someone you trust, like your parent, carer or a lecturer/training consultant


Helping someone else

It can be difficult seeing someone being bullied or harassed online. But there are lots of things you can do to help:

  • Don't like, share or comment
  • Report posts and people
  • Speak to the person being bullied
  • Keep your own posts positive


Cyberbullying – Social media

Cyberbullying – guide for learners

Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest or one of the multitude of sites and apps springing up daily, many of us take social networking for granted.

But like many other things we do online, social networking does have drawbacks – partly because of its vast, often unknown audiences and sometimes caused by comments or images that are posted, either by ourselves or other people.

For example, clicking on links in posts or tweets which can lead to hoax pages and websites designed to defraud you or steal your identity. Not choosing safe passwords, or careless use of passwords, can lead to your account being hacked. You could become the object of bullying, trolling or other forms of online abuse. Or your own careless or ill-considered posts could return to haunt you or others.


Top tips for safe social networking

  • Be careful about what information or opinions – either personal or work-related – that you reveal either in your profile or in your posts / tweets.
  • Use strong passwords, keep them secure and don’t use the same one for more than one online account.
  • Remember that what goes online stays online … even if you withdraw it promptly.
  • Learn how to use sites correctly, including privacy features and who you link with.
  • Guard against phishing, vishing (voice phishing) and other social engineering activity aimed at gleaning passwords.
  • Ensure you have effective and updated internet security software or an app running on your device before going online.
  • Report abuse and actual or attempted fraud.


Safe social networking - guide for learners

What could go wrong with your phone?

Your phone can be a great way to keep in touch with people, share things and get information. But there are things that could go wrong, even when you’re careful. You might:

  • lose or break your phone, or it might be stolen
  • get harassed or bullied
  • share something you regret
  • talk to someone who isn’t who you thought
  • look at something you find upsetting.


5 ways to keep your phone safe right now

  1. Set a passcode for your phone
  2. Stay aware of what’s going on around you
  3. Always update your phone’s software
  4. Use strong passwords and log out of apps
  5. Only download apps from the official app store


7 tips to keep you and your phone safe

  1. Use a passcode on your phone 
  2. Keep your phone with you 
  3. Don’t use public Wi-Fi
  4. Check what data your apps can use
  5. Add an ICE (In Case of Emergency) contact number to your phone
  6. Be careful who you add or talk to
  7. Think before you share or save something


Mobile phone safety - guide for learners

What is your digital footprint?

Whenever you visit a website, share a photo or make a comment online, you leave a digital footprint that other people can see. Your digital footprint includes all the information you share or that’s collected about you online, and there can be a lot of it.

Lots of the information you share can be seen by other people. It can be used to target adverts at you, or it could be seen by a potential employer years later. Sometimes people can use the details you share to work out your identity.

Your footprint can be both good and bad. It could show things you’re embarrassed about later, or help people to see your skills or things you’re proud of.

7 things that could be part of your digital footprint

  1. Photos and posts on social media
  2. Data collected on fitness trackers and smart watches
  3. Games you’ve played online
  4. Things you’ve bought
  5. Information you allow apps to collect or access
  6. Voice searches on Alexa or other devices
  7. Comments or arguments you’ve been in

Tips to protect your privacy online

Whether you want to protect your privacy or leave a positive digital footprint, we’ve got advice for you.

  • Change your privacy settings
  • Think before you post
  • Delete content you don’t want online
  • Search your name
  • Check what data your device is collecting
  • Set permissions for apps and websites
  • Share positive parts of your life


Taking care of your digital footprint - guide for learners

Online reputation checklist

Online grooming is when someone uses the internet to trick, force or pressure a young person into doing something sexual - like sending a naked video or image of themselves. This is wrong.

Someone who’s grooming others online will sometimes build their trust before talking about doing anything sexual. It’s not easy to know if someone’s trying to groom you, but no matter what’s happening, we can help.


6 places where grooming can happen:

  1. social networking websites
  2. instant messaging and live streaming apps
  3. photo sharing apps and sites, like Instagram
  4. chat rooms
  5. dating apps
  6. online gaming sites

What's online grooming?

Anyone can groom another person. A 'groomer' is someone who makes an emotional connection with someone to try and make you do things like:

  • have sexual conversations online or by text messages
  • send naked images of yourself, which is sometimes called sexting
  • send sexual videos of yourself
  • do something sexual live on webcam
  • meet up with them in person.


Signs of grooming

Every situation is different. And online groomers are really good at lying about who they are. Which means it can be difficult to know if someone is an online friend, or if they're trying to get you to send them sexual images or videos.

If a groomer is trying to get you to share sexual images or do something sexual, often they'll:

  • Send you lots of messages
  • Ask you to keep your conversations secret
  • Try to find out more
  • Start sending you sexual messages
  • Get you to share personal information
  • Try to blackmail you

It can be difficult to understand when grooming is happening, the signs aren't always clear to spot. Speak to someone you can trust about grooming.  And remember - you haven't done anything wrong. 


Online grooming - guide for learners

Sexting is when you send a sexual message, photo or video to someone else. It could be a picture of you, but sometimes people send pictures and videos of other people.

Messages could be to a friend, boyfriend, girlfriend or someone online.

Sexting includes:

  • being partly or completely naked, or in your underwear
  • posing in a sexual position
  • sending ‘nudes’ or ‘dick pics’
  • talking about sexual things you’re doing or want to do
  • doing sexual things on a live stream


5 facts about sexting

  1. Images sent on sites like Snapchat can still be saved and screenshotted.
  2. It’s not okay for someone to pressure you into sending a nude.
  3. Sending or receiving a nude when you’re under 18 is against the law.
  4. Not everyone in a relationship will share nudes.
  5. If something goes wrong, there’s support to help.


Sexting - guide for learners

Keeping your information secure

Having your social media account hacked or finding out someone has stolen your data can be scary and upsetting. But there are easy steps you can take to keep yourself safe.

Use strong passwords

A strong password means that it’s hard for someone else to guess or for a computer to crack. Some people use password managers to store all of their passwords, but these can cost money and aren’t always secure so you need to be careful.

Use these tips for creating a strong password.

Make it long and difficult to guess

Make your password more than 8 characters and use a mix of lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers and special characters (like %, #, ! and £).

Don’t use personal details

People might be able to guess your favourite animal, your birthday or your best friend’s name. Try using 3-4 random words that you can remember instead.

Use different passwords

Change your password regularly and use completely different passwords for different websites and apps.