Love it or hate it, you’re doing more learning online than ever before and that’s likely to continue for quite a while. Are you sure you’re safe when you are online? Do you know who to talk to if you experience harassment or if you find worrying content? What should you do to protect yourself and others, and who can you talk to if there’s a problem?
What you need to know
Being at home doesn’t mean you’re safe from harm – a whopping 54% of all crime now happens online. Ask your university or college what they’re doing about cybersecurity and how they will support you if you have problems. If they aren’t doing enough you’ll be doing them a favour; a safe campus attracts students!
Don’t share your passwords with other people.
Be careful about who you allow to take and share photos of you - if people share images of you online without permission, talk to someone who can help to get them removed.
Act respectfully and responsibly on social media - don’t harass or bully other people and always report harassment or bullying if they happen to you or someone you know. Don’t share personal information, update your privacy settings and know when to walk away from disagreements.
It’s very easy to find harmful content accidentally – racist, terrorist or sexually abusive material, for instance. If you do, report it to protect other people who might see it and to get help for people who may be being harmed. No one will judge you for finding it but they will thank you for helping to stop it. The Internet Watch Foundation's video, So Socking Simple shows why it’s important to report images of child sexual abuse.
Report harmful content
It’s easy to report content that is suspicious. These organisations will investigate, take action to remove criminal content and intervene to support victims:
- Action Fraud
- Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) command
- Counter terrorism policing
- Internet Watch Foundation
- UK Safer Internet Centre
- Report Harmful Content
Report harassment, bullying or other threatening behaviours, whether on- or offline, to your university or college’s safeguarding lead. Don’t hesitate to call the police for advice if you need to.
If you need information on a specific subject it’s out there. Use it!
The UK Government's guide: coronavirus (COVID-19) - staying safe online, talks about ways to protect your privacy and financial security online.
The National Cyber Security Centre's Cyber Aware pages explain why you should keep your devices updated and offer lots more useful stuff about staying safe online.
The Revenge Porn Helpline provides specialist help and support if your intimate images have been shared online or if someone threatens to do so.
If you’re a victim of fraud contact Cifas.
Our quick guide on the digital wellbeing of learners talks you through the positive benefits (and potential negative aspects) of digital activities and helps you think about your own wellbeing and safety online.