The internet is a great way for young people to find information, get support and connect with others. As young carers, you can also make contact with other young people who are in a similar situation.
Here at YCNet, the Online Support Team is around to make sure young people are kept safe. We moderate the discussion boards and chat room on our website. But not all online communities are like this, so it's important to know how you can stay safe online.
Sharing personal information
Don't trust everyone: Don't share personal information online as you can't always be sure who you're really talking to. Think of a username that isn't too similar to your real name and avoid talking about things like the area you live, your telephone number, the school you go to or other places, such as clubs and sports centres where you spend time. It's also a good idea to choose profile pictures carefully as they may be seen by anyone. Consider using an image such as a cartoon character or picture of your favourite band or sports team, rather than one of yourself.
Be careful about posting photographs and videos: If you're posting things on photo-sharing and video-hosting websites like YouTube or Tumblr, try to avoid those that include your personal details like your real picture or the location of your home, etc.
Word of caution: Other people could be looking at, editing and sharing your pictures or videos even after they've been removed. So, stop and think before posting anything online: would you be happy for your friends and family to see it? What about your teachers and future employers?
Social Networking Sites
These sites are a great way to stay in touch with friends and family. It's also good to think about who might be able to see what's on your profile, though. Follow these tips to stay safe:
On Facebook you can set your timeline so that only your friends can see it. You can also choose who sees photos and status updates. The best way to deal with any unwanted contact is to block the person or consider reporting them. All of this can be done by clicking on the padlock symbol at the top right-hand corner of the screen, alongside the "Home" option. There are lots of different security setting options on Facebook. Have a look at Facebook's Let's Start Now safety guide here: http://www.facebook.com/about/privacy/#!/safety/tools/
"Liking" the Facebook Safety and Click CEOP pages is another great way to get reminders and updates about staying safe.
Tweeting a short message to let others know what you're doing or how you're feeling is a great way to share news with others and communicate online. As with other forms of online communication, it's important to know how to keep yourself safe. Twitter has some great advice for young people here: http://support.twitter.com/articles/20169990-safety-tips-for-teens#
Blackberry Messenger (BBM):
Blackberry Messenger is another great way to chat to friends in your social circle and share sound and image files. There's a group option too, where you can chat to up to 30 people. It's good to be aware, though, that your friends can invite other people to join in, and these may be people you don't know. So, just make sure you're aware who's in the group, and that you're happy to share information with everyone. If you create a group yourself, you'll be an 'administrator' and can then restrict who can join a conversation; find out how here: http://docs.blackberry.com/en/smartphone_users/deliverables/38421/Create_a_group_60_1430456_11.jsp
WhatsApp and Kik Messenger work in a similar way; you can find useful tips here:
And Youtube has some useful advice on how to limit who can view a video here:
Word of caution: If you use social networking sites on a computer that is used by other people, it's a good idea to log out when you're not using it; this stops other people accessing your account. And don't ever share your password with other people.
Remember: It's best not to meet anyone in person if you've met them online. If someone asks to meet you it is always safest to take along an adult you trust and to meet somewhere public.
Location Aware Services
Many mobile phones, (and some computers), can now use GPS, Wi-Fi or the mobile phone network to work out your location. Being able to use your phone more when you're out and about is great. It also means, though, that your location could be shared with other people. When using Facebook or Twitter, you may choose to "check in" and let others know where you are and what you're doing. Be careful about who you share this information with, though. Do you want everyone you connect with on these sites to know your whereabouts? You can edit your privacy settings to limit who finds out where you are. Also, it's worth remembering that, once activated, some services, such as Google Latitude and Find Friends (on iPhones) may be automatically sharing information about where you are without you even realising.
Reporting problems/who to tell if you're worried
If you are upset or worried about anything that happens online then it's always a good idea to tell an adult you can trust. If you don't have anyone you can talk to, you can contact the following:
Childline for help: Their telephone number is 0800 1111, or you can go to their website by following this link: http://www.childline.org.uk/Pages/Home.aspx
CEOP: You can report anything you're worried about here - http://www.ceop.police.uk/report-abuse/ Lots of sites, such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter have an option to report a photo, video clip, or message if it's inappropriate, worrying or offensive in some way. Look out for a red "report abuse" button.
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online or through mobile phone contact. It can be just as upsetting as other types of bullying. You can get help and advice here:
Links to other websites
YCNet includes links to external websites - that means websites that aren't connected to Carers Trust (the organisation which runs YCNet). We only include links to websites which we feel will be helpful and are appropriate for young people but it's important to be aware, though, that we aren't responsible for what's on these external sites. If you find something that worries you on one of these links then please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.