Using online platforms such as apps and social media can be a great way to meet people. It’s important to explore and have fun but you should also be aware of the risks. Here are some top tips for staying safe online:
- Don’t reveal any personal information such as your phone number or address (or school/college if you are a young person) on your profile- only give this information to a person in a private message and once you trust them. Make sure your username doesn’t contain any identifying information such as your surname or date of birth. Remember not to give them your WhatsApp either as this will allow them to access your phone number.
- If someone asks you for money on an online dating platform, it’s almost definitely a scam. They might ask for help because a relative is sick or say that they need a plane ticket. Never give out your bank details or send money, just stop replying and report it immediately.
- If someone sends you insulting, offensive or threatening messages or pictures, block the person and report it to the app or site that you are using. This will keep you safe and also prevent it from happening to someone else.
- Once you have sent someone a picture or a video, remember that they could send it to anyone else or post it online without your knowledge or consent. Don’t send anything that you wouldn’t want other people to see. If someone does pass on your videos and pictures without your consent, you can report it to the police.
- If someone sends you multiple pictures that are clearly of different people, it is likely to be a scammer. There are also scams where you might receive a message saying you would make a great model or footballer, so be wary of these.
- If you are meeting someone for the first time in person, make sure you meet in a public place (not at your or their house) and tell a friend where you are going. Ideally meet in a place where there are lots of people and where you have phone signal.
- Meet in a place that you can get back home from easily. Always arrange your own transport and don’t rely on your date to collect you and drop you off.
- Always keep your personal boundaries in mind- you don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with.
- Remember that people aren’t always who they say they are online. Some people use other people’s pictures and aren’t always truthful on their profiles.
- Trust your instincts- you’ll probably be able to tell if somethings not quite right. If you need some advice, it might be an idea to run it by a trusted friend to get a second opinion. If something feels weird, it probably is.
- You can always leave if you feel uncomfortable. If you feel awkward about doing this, you can tell them you feel unwell or pretend that a friend needs you.
- If you plan to meet in a public sex environment, make sure you know the area and have an escape route in mind. If you experience violence, remember you can report this to the police without experiencing repercussions yourself.