How to stay safe online

Explains how to keep yourself safe and look after your wellbeing when you use the internet for information or support for your mental health. It covers protecting your privacy, how to take relationships offline safely and how to address online bullying and abuse.

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How can I take relationships offline safely?

The internet can be a great place to make connections with new people. If you have made a good online friendship with someone, you may decide to take it offline. This might mean talking over the phone or arranging to meet face-to-face.

Many people have established long-lasting and supportive friendships this way, but it's also important to keep yourself safe.

I have met up with many people from the internet and have has some really amazing experiences.

What should I consider before meeting up offline?

You might want to ask yourself these questions:

  • How much do I know about this person? Try and think about what they've told you about themselves. How long have you been talking to them? Do you have any mutual friends?
  • Are they definitely who they say they are? While most people are honest, not everyone represents themselves accurately online.
  • Do I feel pressured into meeting up? You don't have to do anything you don't feel comfortable with. It's ok to tell someone you're not ready to meet offline just yet, or that you'd rather keep your relationship online-only.
  • Do we want the same thing from an offline relationship? It's important to be clear beforehand about why you want to meet, to make sure that your motivations and expectations are the same. For example, you might just want to continue an existing friendship, but the other person might assume that you want to develop your relationship further.

What can I do to keep myself safe?

When meeting up with someone for the first time, it's a good idea to be keep these suggestions in mind:

  • Don't give out your phone number or address until you're confident that you know who you are talking to.
  • Always make sure you meet in a public place, during the daytime, when other people will be around.
  • Let a friend or family member know where you are, who you are with and when you expect to be back.
  • Keep in touch with your friend or family member while you're out – you might want to make sure you've charged your phone fully before leaving the house.
  • Ask someone else to come with you. If you’re both part of an online community, perhaps ask other people in the group to come too.

 


This information was published in June 2015. We will revise it in 2018.


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