Tips on how to stay safe online during the COVID-19 pandemic

Things to watch out for with online friends

Two friends who are boys, chatting online whilst on their laptops

 

Not everyone online is who
they say they are

Most people who contact you online just want to be friends or chat.

The problem is that not everyone is like this. People can also pretend to be someone else online.

Someone could pretend to be a kid your own age, then harm you by tricking you into doing something rude or sexual online. 

It could be a stranger, or it could be someone you know. It can be hard to know what to look out for. 

Things to watch out for

  • You feel that something is not right — trust your feelings.
  • Things don’t add up — their online profile does not match what you see and hear when you talk or chat with them.
  • They tell you their webcam is broken — sometimes people who want to harm you pretend to be a boy or girl your own age and say their webcam is broken so you can’t see them.
  • They contact you all the time and in different ways — you meet in an online game and they ask you to start texting them.
  • They ask you who else uses your computer or tablet — or even which room of your house you are in.
  • They ask you for favours and do things in return — people who want to harm you often use promises and favours to gain your trust.
  • They say nice things about the way you are dressed or your body — or ask things like ‘have you ever been kissed’?
  • They insist on meeting — they keep talking about meeting in person or try to make you feel bad if you say no.
  • They ask you to keep your relationship secret — people who want to harm you often try to keep their relationships private from the beginning.

 

What to do if something goes wrong

If an online friend is making you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, or you feel like something is not quite right, help is available. 

Remember if things go wrong it is never your fault. Even if you feel embarrassed or scared about what has happened, help is always available.

You can follow these steps


  1. Talk to a trusted adult — tell your parent, carer or a trusted adult what is happening.


  2. Collect evidence and block — before you block the abusive person, get your parent, carer or a trusted adult to help you take screenshots.


  3. Report to the police — or make an anonymous report to Crime Stoppers.


  4. Get help and support — contact Kids Helpline.