Staying Safe Online

How to stay safe online

Living in a world where technology is ever changing and advancing is great, you can research absolutely anything and discover so much more than before it was around. We live our lives online, we’re online at work, online when we want to socialise and we’re even online when we want to relax. However, like everything, being online comes with cautions and there are guidelines you should follow if you want to stay safe.

Last year there were over 12,000 counselling sessions with young people regarding online child sexual exploitation issues. The Internet Watch Foundation reports that they identified over 57,000 URLs containing child sexual exploitation abuse imagery and 1 in 4 young people have experienced something upsetting on a social networking site. Statistics provided by The NSPCC.

With this in mind, here are some top tips on how to stay protected online.


The NSPCC reports that one in five 8 – 11-year-olds and seven in ten 12 – 18-year-olds have an online social media profile. It’s vital that young people stay safe in an environment where there are so many risks.

With Facebook, staying safe is pretty simple as they offer custom advice on their site as follows.

Here are a few things you can do to stay safe on Facebook:

  1. Learn how to use Facebook’s privacy shortcuts and settings to comfortably share and connect with others.
  2. Learn how to recognize sensitive content and behaviour and how to report it.

Remember these simple rules about staying safe online:

  • Never share your password
  • Think before you post
  • Adjust your privacy settings and review them regularly
  • Only accept friend requests from people you know personally
  • Report things that look suspicious


Like Facebook, Snapchat is a multi-billion pound company. A feature that’s exclusive to Snapchat is enabling users to send pictures that vanish after a set amount of time. The idea is that these photos will then never be found again. However, anything that goes on the internet stays on the internet and can be tracked.

Here’s how to stay safe on Snapchat:

  1. Ensure your privacy settings are configured correctly; online grooming is abundant on Snapchat if you don’t protect yourself. You can do this by entering the settings and under the subtitle ‘Who Can….’ switch each option to ‘My Friends’.
  2. Avoid sending photos, videos or messages that could be classed as inappropriate. As mentioned previously, nothing is gone forever on the internet and messages you have sent can easily be traced and/or saved.
    To view Snapchat’s full privacy recommendations click here.


Instagram is the easiest platform to stay safe on as there’s only one thing you have to do to stay safe.
Simply enter the Instagram settings and under the subheading ‘account’ toggle the switch that reads ‘Private’.

When your Instagram is set to private it ensures that nobody can see your photos unless you have approved a ‘follow request’. You should only ever accept a follow request if you know the person personally. One thing to note is that although you’re now on private, people may still be able to direct message you. If you ever feel pressured or harassed by a user you can block them which will prevent them from messaging you and seeing your profile altogether. To view Instagram’s full privacy recommendations click here.


Similarly to Instagram, you can set your Twitter to private but this won’t guarantee that users won’t be able to message you. Enter the settings of your profile and under the heading ‘Privacy & Safety’ find the subheading ‘Privacy’. Make sure the first box labelled ‘Protect my Tweets’ is ticked and only people you approve will be able to see your tweets.

On Twitter, you can set your Safety settings to hide sensitive and explicit content, see image below for exact formatting.

You can find these settings under the heading ‘Privacy & Safety’ and then scroll down to the bottom of the web page to find the ‘Safety’. To view Twitter’s full privacy recommendations click here.

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