Private Parts: Looking After Yourself Online 16/11/2021

Looking after yourself online

We pretty much live online; from social media to ordering our clothes, we’re constantly connected and active. However, it’s not always easy to know what’s safe online and what’s not. Our advice can help you to keep safe and to know what to do when things go wrong.

5 ways to get support if things go wrong

  1. Talk to someone you trust like an adult, or you can always talk to a Childline counsellor
  2. Report bullying and abuse directly to the website or app
  3. Delete things you’ve shared that you’re worried about,or find ways to hide them
  4. Tell the police by making a report to CEOP if someone is threatening or blackmailing you
  5. Plan for the future and change your privacy settings so it doesn’t happen again

What are the risks?

There are lots of fun and interesting things you can do on the internet. And it can be a great way to stay in touch with friends. But it’s important to understand how to stay safe online.

Sometimes people will try to trick you into clicking dangerous links or sharing things about yourself. Or something you’ve shared might be used to bully or frighten you.

Tips for staying safe online

Think before you post

Don’t upload or share anything you wouldn’t want your parents, carers, teachers or future employers seeing. Once you post something, you lose control of it, especially if someone else screenshots or shares it. We have a blog post all about how ‘What You Type Has An Impact.’ 

Be aware of your digital footprint

Every time you go online you leave a digital ‘footprint’ which shows others where you are and what you have been doing. While posting pictures and videos is great for sharing with friends and being creative, always remember that once an image or file is online it’s likely to stay there forever. Don’t post anything you wouldn’t want your grandma to see! You can check out more about this on our first instalment of Private Parts: Online Privacy and Your Digital Footprint

Don’t share personal details

Keep things like your address, phone number, full name, school and date of birth private, and check what people can see in your privacy settings. Remember that people can use small clues like a college logo in a photo to find out a lot about you.

Know who you’re dealing with

Lots of people only play or chat with people they know in person, and that’s a sensible approach. But if you do meet people you don’t know, use the same caution that you would offline. People may not be who they say they are, so be mindful about what you say about yourself. Keep chat general and if you are concerned that someone’s asking for personal details, stop contact and tell a trusted adult. Never arrange to meet someone you only know online.

Watch our for scams

Phishing is when someone tries to trick you into giving them information, like your password. Someone might also try to trick you by saying they can make you famous or that they’re from a talent agency. Never click links from emails or messages that ask you to log in or share your details, even if you think they might be genuine. If you’re asked to log into a website, go to the app or site directly instead.

Keep your device secure

Make sure that you’re keeping your information and device secure.

Spotting fake news

The news you see online or on social media isn’t always going to be accurate. And it can be hard to tell what’s real and what’s fake.

Some websites will report fake news or things that aren’t completely true. They might do it because they want to scare you or make you do something. Or because they make money from people going to their site.

Fake news can look real, but there are ways to help you spot it.

Check the source

Check the name of the website and its web address to see if it looks real. Some sites will try to look like other websites so you think they’re genuine.

Look for evidence

Find out whether it’s being reported on other sites that you know and trust. If it’s only being reported on websites you’ve never heard of then it might not be true.

Don’t decide straight away

Sometimes headlines or stories are designed to scare or interest you. Read what’s in the article carefully, ask yourself whether it seems true and why they’re saying it.

Ask someone you trust

Try asking an adult you trust to see what they think. If you’re worried about something you’ve seen online, you can always talk to a Childline counsellor.

Online grooming

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.

What is 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.

They might be old, or young. And they can be male or female.

Most of us talk to people online – it’s a great way to stay connected. It can even be a good way of making new friends sometimes. But it’s really important to understand the dangers of talking to someone you don’t know.

If you send someone sexual photos or videos of yourself, you lose control over what happens to them. The other person may end up sharing them with other people who might then keep sharing them.

Someone could even use images you’ve sent to blackmail you. For example, they may say that they’ll post them online if you don’t keep sending more images. But we can help.

If you’re under 18 and someone posts an explicit or nude image online you can make a report to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF). They can contact the website to try and remove it without getting anyone involved.

Nobody should blackmail or pressure you into doing something sexual online. If someone is doing this you’re not alone. You can make a report to CEOP or talk to our KC Safeguarding Team

Signs of Online 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
    This could be really often and they might message you in lots of different ways, for example through Facebook, text messaging and chat rooms
  • Ask you to keep your conversations secret
    They might ask you not to tell anyone that you’re talking to them and say that it’s your ‘special secret.’ They might also ask you if you trust them or make you feel like you can’t trust your friends or family
  • Try to find out more
    Ask you who else uses your computer or which room your computer is in, to find out if they could get caught by your parents or carers
  • Start sending you sexual messages
    This might be really subtle at first. They could start to say nice things about your appearance or your body or ask things like “have you ever been kissed?”
  • Get you to share personal information
    They might want you to tell them secrets about yourself or share personal details about where you live or go to school. Or they might ask you to keep in contact all the time, and share information about where you are.
  • Try to blackmail you
    They might try to persuade you to send sexual images of yourself by saying they’ll be hurt or upset if you don’t. If you’ve sent images of yourself already, they could threaten to post your images online or show them to people you know if you don’t send them more.

It can be difficult to understand when grooming is happening, the signs aren’t always clear to spot. If you want to speak to someone you can trust about grooming, you can speak to one of our KC Safeguarding Team. We’re here to listen and give you the support you need. And remember – you haven’t done anything wrong.

How to tell if someone is a groomer

It’s important to remember that there isn’t one ‘type’ of groomer. Many different kinds of people have used the internet to trick, force or persuade young people into sharing sexual images of themselves. Often it’s an adult pretending to be a young person – but not always.

Grooming online
When people are online, they can hide who they really are. They might send you a photo or video they say is of themselves when it isn’t actually them. So it’s important to be really careful and not trust people online if you can’t be sure who they are.

Sometimes the person might pretend to be like you and have the same interests or problems as you. They could just be doing this to get you to trust them, so later on they can get you to do what they want.

Grooming doesn’t only happen online
It can happen with people you’ve already met in person, for example through your family or at a club you go to.

If someone is an abuser, they might be nice to you, give you their attention and buy you presents. They could do this to try and make you like them. Once you start to trust them more, they might try to start to turn your relationship into something more sexual. They might try to give you gifts or even threaten you with violence so that you don’t tell anyone.

People like this can be very convincing and will try really hard to get you to do what they want. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s a good idea to tell someone you trust.

If anyone is making you feel uncomfortable because they’re saying or doing sexual things to you, you should tell someone what is happening.

What to do if you think you're being groomed

If you think you’re being groomed don’t worry about getting in trouble – you haven’t done anything wrong. There are people for you talk to and there are ways that you can report your concern.

Ask the person to stop
As a first step, you might want to deal with the situation yourself. For example, you could ask the person to stop – tell them you don’t feel comfortable sending sexual images of yourself.

Tell an adult you trust
If the groomer keeps talking to you, it may be best to tell an adult you trust or report them. Telling someone can seem really scary and you might feel like you’ll get in trouble. It could also feel embarrassing. But telling someone can really help you start to get out of a bad or uncomfortable situation.

Report it
You can report an adult or stranger if they’ve sent you a sexual message, asked you to send them a sexual message, sent anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or asked you to meet up with them.

Getting more support

If you’re worried, please make sure you talk to someone; whether it’s a parent, friend or one of KC’s Safeguarding Team

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