Keep personal information about yourself and others safe online
This section has been developed to help generate discussions about safe and responsible sharing online; considering what personal information is and how to keep it safe.
Much of what we see and do in our everyday lives is shared online, including information, photographs, videos and stories. Sharing online can be a great way of keeping in touch with friends, learning from others and simply sharing happy experiences. However, we need to always consider who we are sharing this information with.
There are types of information that are not appropriate to share with everyone online because it’s personal to us and may reveal something about us, eg our location or age etc. However, there is also information that we can freely share with anyone online because it isn’t information that is specific to us, eg our favourite game.
Sharing information online can be done intentionally by sharing a post or writing a comment, or unintentionally by other people resharing your posts or comments to a wider or different audience. This would not only include sharing one’s own personal information but also the personal information of others, eg friends, family, support staff etc.
Challenges for young people with special educational needs
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The internet can be a great platform for young people who have special educational needs to communicate with other likeminded people without the added challenge of face to face contact. However, it can be challenging for them to differentiate between what information is OK to share with others online, and what information is not OK to share, and who we should share this information with.
Autistic young people in particular tend to be very trusting and honest which could lead them to sharing information with strangers online. Typically, the advice is that if you wouldn’t share certain information with a stranger on the street, then you should not be sharing this piece of information with someone you only know online either. However, this transferring of message and advice can be tricky for young people who have special educational needs to understand and needs strengthening and reinforcing to suit their individual need and level of understanding.
The internet does come with an added ambiguity in that there is no hard and fast rule that will work for every situation. Often, we have to assess the situation for ourselves and carefully consider the level of risk. Young people who have special educational needs will need to be supported in differentiating not only what a stranger is online, but also what you should and shouldn’t share with them.
What is personal information?
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Personal information is any piece of information which is special/unique to us. It is information which reveals something about us and could help someone to understand/know more about us. It is often described as ‘identifiable information’ which just means that someone can know the difference between us and someone else. Examples of personal information would include:
- Full name
- Home address
- School name and location
- Phone number
- Location (Frequently visited or live)
How can personal information be shared online?
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Sharing personal information online can happen in different ways. These could include but not be limited to any of the following:
- Through creating online profiles for social media, gaming platforms or video sharing sites
- By sharing pictures and videos online, eg revealing a location by sharing a picture of you in your school uniform
- By joining or being added to group chats – your phone number, profile picture and status could all become visible to other members of the chat
- Bios on social media accounts, eg bios on Instagram remain public even when an account is switched to private
- Memes you share - Some memes, such as ones looking at password strength or memes created about your school or class, can actually give away more information than you intended to
Top tips for safe sharing online
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- Don’t give away personal information to people you only know online
- Make use of privacy settings
- Check profiles and posts to make sure they aren’t revealing any information you weren’t intending to share
- Think about timings – if you wish to share posts that reveal your location choose to share them after you have left that place where the photo was taken
- Speak to an adult if anything worries you online or if anyone tries to persuade you to share your personal information
Download the full 'safe sharing' pack
This resource is being developed and launched in stages in order to obtain and build upon feedback whilst working with educators and specialist organisations.
If you have used the resource and would like to give feedback then please complete this survey monkey or email [email protected]
Download individual resources