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Staying safe online

Staying safe online 

The internet can be fun and a great way to chat, listen to music, and share images or media. But remember to be smart and stay safe! 

Keep personal information like your mobile number and your address to yourself. Also make sure to never tell anybody your passwords or any other information you aren’t comfortable sharing. Not all people you meet online are real or honest. 

It is important to remember that if you publish a picture or video, anyone can change or share it, and it might be difficult to delete later. 

Remember, you can block people you don’t know on social media and messaging apps like Whatsapp and Facebook messenger. 

If you find anything that makes you uncomfortable online, tell an adult you trust like a parent or teacher. 

For more information on how to stay safe online, check out the following webpages: 

Advice if you’re worried about a child sending, sharing or receiving nudes 

Tips on how to start the conversation with your child 

Advice on how to support your child if they’ve seen something that’s upset them 

Learn more about the risks of online games and how to protect your child 

Advice to help you understand the risks and keep your child safe 

How to support your child if you’re worried they’re watching porn online 

Advice on how to make internet connected toys and devices safe for your child 

How setting up parental controls can keep your child safe online

Privates are private
Always remember your body belongs to you
No means no
Talk about secrets that upset you
Speak up, someone can help 

Always remember that your body belongs to you, and if somebody touches you in a private place tell an adult you trust or talk to ChildLine: You can contact Childline by phone, email, text or via a message board. To phone call 0800 1111. They have a video that shows you what happens when you contact them and lots of ideas and information about keeping safe. Their website is at

Children and young people run away for a number of reasons. These can include: 

  • arguments with family 
  • violence 
  • problems at school 
  • pregnancy 
  • forced marriage 
  • being in a stressful situation. 

Running away isn’t always planned, and you might not be prepared – with no money, warm clothes, or idea about where you can get help. You might feel like there’s nowhere else to turn, but running away to live on the streets is never the answer. 

If you’re having problems with your family, in care, or are being abused or neglected, there are ways that you can get support. It can help to talk things through before running away – there might be options you hadn’t thought about. 

You could: 

  • try talking to an adult that you trust about what’s going on 
  • talk confidentially to Childline, who can listen and support you 
  • get advice from the Runaway helpline if you’re thinking of running away 

Thinking of running away? is a guide for children and young people about the risks of running away and advice on where to find help. 


If you are self-harming, you might feel lonely, isolated and like you can’t tell anyone about it – but you are not alone. We really encourage you to talk about it, and more importantly about how you’re feeling. 

It might feel difficult (maybe even impossible) to start with. Sometimes writing, drawing or painting how you’re feeling can help too, or some of these other distractions. 

We’re not saying it will fix everything, but usually it can really help to get it out – it can help you realise what’s going on inside your head and how you’re feeling, as well as helping others to understand why you may be behaving differently. 

You could talk to a friend, family member, someone you trust at school, college or university, your GP, youth worker, or counsellor. 

Here are some ideas that might help you to start a conversation about how you’re feeling: 

  • I’m finding (…) really hard right now; 
  • Can we have a chat about (…); 
  • I’ve being doing (…) to myself and I don’t know why; 
  • If you’ve got a moment I could really do with a chat; 
  • Can I talk to you in private please? 

If you’re not quite ready to talk to someone yet, here are four websites where you’ll find information and support: 

  • Right Here – YMCA Right Here is a health and wellbeing project for 11-25 year olds based in Brighton and Hove. They offer advice and support on looking after yourself, visiting your GP, and self-harm and suicide prevention. 
  • Find Get Give – a mental health services directory for young people created by YMCA’s Brighton & Hove Right Here project in partnership with other local groups. This site allows users to search for support, share stories about their own mental health and give feedback on services they have used for others to read. 
  • Self Harm UK – Support for young people affected by self-harm. 
  • YoungMinds – A leading charity in the UK fighting for young people’s mental health. 

It’s important if you’re harming yourself that you keep yourself safe. If you’re worried that you’ve done something serious, call 999 for an ambulance. 


“You can contact Childline about anything. No problem is too big or too small. Whatever your worry it’s better out than in.” 

You can contact Childline by phone, email, text or via a message board. To phone call 0800 1111. They have a video that shows you what happens when you contact them and lots of ideas and information about keeping safe. Their website is 

How can gaming affect my mental health? 

Gaming can have a good impact on your mental health. You might find that gaming is making you feel good and connected with friends. It can help with things like: 

Taking time out from our busy lives to switch off and relax by gaming. This helps us to give time to process your day, and take time to recharge after school, college, work, or university. 

Connecting with friends. Keeping in touch with friends online can be a great way to socialise and can give us a low-pressure space to check in with each other, talk about what’s going on in our lives and how we’re really feeling. If you find talking about your thoughts and feelings difficult face to face, chatting with friends online might feel easier. It can be reassuring to know that your friends are there for you and that you’re not alone. 

Learning skills you can use in everyday life, like problem-solving or being a team player. Gaming can make you look at something from a different point of view or consider how you approach a problem. Learning to be a team player can be useful too. For example, if you are working on a group project at school, you can understand what roles everyone will play and how you can work on the project as a team. 

But sometimes, gaming can become too much. You might find that you are often thinking about when you are next able to game, or you stop doing other hobbies to game. This might make you feel out of control and that gaming is taking over your life. If gaming is effecting everyday things like school, sleep or work, it can lead to feelings of: 

If you are having any of these feelings, it’s important that you reach out for help and get the support you need. There are people who will help you get through this. 

How to have a more positive time online 

If you find that gaming is having a negative impact on your mental health, here are some tips on how you can have a more positive time: 

  • Build your own positive community by connecting with people, friends and family you feel comfortable with. Being part of a group can make you feel reassured, safe and an important part of the team. There will be other people who have the same interests in gaming as you where you can share and connect with each other. Avoid gaming spaces that are harmful for your mental health. If you are finding things difficult when gaming, talk to someone you trust. 
  • Check your mood before gaming. This can help you reflect on how you are feeling and how this might affect your gaming time. By checking in with your thoughts and feelings, you can understand if gaming is going to make you feel better or, if it’s going to have a negative impact on your mood. 
  • Set up your privacy settings with what you feel comfortable with. In your console settings, you can set who can see your profile as well protecting your information and who you connect with. This can help you to feel safe when gaming and keep your space positive. 
  • Find time for other activities. Try scheduling in time to do other things you enjoy. It’s good to have a balance, and putting in time to do these things can help you manage your time. 
  • Make sure you also have time to look after yourself. Basic needs like enough sleep, food and taking care of your hygiene are really important for your wellbeing. By looking after yourself, you’ll have a better time gaming. 


What to do if gaming becomes too much 

If you feel like gaming is taking over your daily life and you’re not sure what to do, here are some things that can help: 

  • Talk to someone you trust about how you are feeling and why it is worrying you. This is often the first step to feeling better. 
  • Decide how much time you think is reasonable for you to spend gaming and set an alarm to remind you when to stop. Or ask someone you are living with to encourage and help you to stop when you need to.  
  • Write down how you are feeling. You might be using gaming to distract yourself from focusing on other worries – it is important to figure out what is causing you to game so much and try to deal with these problems, because distracting yourself will not make them go away. And it’s ok to reach out for help and support so that things can get better. 
  • Speak to your GP – they can help you with any worries you have about addiction, sleep, low mood, social anxiety or if your behaviour has changed since you started gaming. 


Gaming, money and mental health 

Like with a lot of hobbies, we might spend money on gaming. That might be buying gaming equipment or accessories, new games, or in-game purchases like new skins. There’s nothing wrong with spending money on our hobbies, as long as we can afford to do that. 

Many games might encourage you to spend money, particularly at moments in a game where you are really invested and are enjoying playing. When you are absorbed in a game, it can be harder to keep track of how much you are spending or have the time to think through the decision. Sometimes you might not even realise you are purchasing something. It’s important to check before you start playing a game whether there are in-game or in-app purchases, and consider how much you have to spend. It’s important if you are spending someone else’s money, like a parent’s, that you check with them and have their permission first. 

Sometimes, we may find it hard to control our spending. It may be that we feel we have to keep buying more items in-game to keep up with friends or to make sure we always have the latest gear. Or we may be struggling to stop spending money on loot boxes. Sometimes spending money on things like loot boxes can give us a good feeling, which we want to keep having. The feeling of taking a risk and winning may make you tempted to start gambling on other things, like sports. 

If you are struggling with these things, it’s important that you speak to someone you trust about what’s going on so you don’t start spending money you don’t have. They can also help you set boundaries with how much you spend. 

For more information on gambling and how to know if you have a problem, have a look at the Big Deal website. 

Where to get help 

See below for a list of organisations and helpline services that have information to support you: 

YoungMinds Crisis Messenger 

Provides free, 24/7 text support for young people across the UK experiencing a mental health crisis. 

All texts are answered by trained volunteers, with support from experienced clinical supervisors. 

Texts are free from EE, O2, Vodafone, 3, Virgin Mobile, BT Mobile, GiffGaff, Tesco Mobile and Telecom Plus. 

Texts can be anonymous, but if the volunteer believes you are at immediate risk of harm, they may share your details with people who can provide support. 

Text: YM to 85258 

Opening times: 24/7 


Big Deal 

Offers information, advice and support for young people affected by problem gambling in England, Scotland and Wales. 

Free 24/7 1-2-1 live chat service available. 

For support outside of the helpline opening hours, call the National Helpline on 0808 8020 133. 

Phone: 0203 092 6964 

Opening times: 9am – 8pm, Monday – Thursday


The Mix 

Offers support to anyone under 25 about anything that’s troubling them. 

Email support available via their online contact form. 

Free 1-2-1 webchat service available. 

Free short-term counselling service available. 

Phone: 0808 808 4994 

Opening times: 4pm – 11pm, seven days a week 



If you’re under 19 you can confidentially call, chat online or email about any problem big or small. 

Sign up for a free Childline locker (real name or email address not needed) to use their free 1-2-1 counsellor chat and email support service. 

Can provide a BSL interpreter if you are deaf or hearing-impaired. 

Hosts online message boards where you can share your experiences, have fun and get support from other young people in similar situations. 

Phone: 0800 1111 

Opening times: 9am – midnight, 365 days a year 

Being connected is a big part of our lives. But if you’re seeing stuff online which makes you feel angry, sad, worried, stressed, or annoyed, this can build up and start having a negative impact on your life. 

For example, you might start worrying more about how you look or what you’re missing out on. 

If you ever feel overwhelmed by the online world, unable to switch off, or find it difficult to cope, you’re not alone. We all struggle to keep our online world positive sometimes.


Clean your feed

It’s not always easy to tell why you’re feeling down when you’re online. Take some time to go through your social media feed to work out what’s making you feel good, and what’s not. Use these tips to help you: 

  • Try unfollowing or muting accounts that annoy you, upset you, or take up too much of your time. 
  • Remember you don’t have to be on every social media channel. Try deleting one app from your phone for a week and see what happens. 
  • Try limiting your time on social media before you go to sleep and when you first wake up. 
  • Before you post or comment ask yourself: am I doing something positive for myself and the people who’ll see this? 
  • Use our emoji scale to work out how stuff in your social media feed is making you feel. 

Find your crowd

Whatever your passions are in life, you’re not alone. There are accounts out there that will interest and excite you, and help you explore your passions. 

Being part of a positive online community can give a boost to your mental health. Here are some tips to help you find yours: 

  • See which accounts people you enjoy following follow themselves, and explore the hashtags they use to discover more stuff like it. Don’t forget to shout out positive people by liking, commenting and sharing their posts. 
  • Follow accounts that make you feel good, keep you interested and share positive content. 
  • Build your own positive following, as well as following positive people. Did you know that you can select who follows you and what they see? 
  • You are not alone. Whatever your passion is, there will be other people online who share it. Find like-minded online communities and use social media to fuel your passions. 
  • It’s important to remember that while many online mental health communities are positive spaces, some can be negative for you and your recovery. Avoid any spaces that encourage you to do things which are harmful for your physical or mental health. If you’re struggling with things you’re experiencing online, talk to someone you trust.  

Say hey

You never know what someone else is going through and, whether you realise it or not, your support could make all the difference. 

Social media is a great place to let your friends know you haven’t forgotten them, that you care about them and that they matter – and getting involved in making the online world a more positive place to be could give you a boost too! Here are some tips to get you started: 

  • What change would you like to see in the world? Use your feed to support the causes you care about and help make them happen. 
  • Check your mood before using social media, and think about what you’re going on there to do before you dive in. Ask yourself: is social media going to make me feel better or worse right now? 
  • Remember: not all the advice you get online is from experts, even if it comes from people who know what you are going through. Positive communities will never advise you to do anything harmful, or anything which makes you feel worse. 

How can I deal with online bullying?

Bullying is never okay, whether it’s at school, at home, or on the internet. If you’re being harassed or upset in any way online, reach out for help from someone you trust. 

You can block and report the people involved, or, if you don’t feel able to block someone, try muting them – they won’t know you’ve muted them and you won’t have to see their posts or messages. 

You can also use the privacy settings on your social networks to limit what they can see on your profile. See below for tips on how to block, report or mute people on social media.

How can I block, mute or report other accounts?  

ry these five tips for reducing negative content on Instagram: 

  • Restrict: When you restrict someone, any comments they leave on your posts will only be visible to them. They won’t be able to see when you’re active on Instagram, and they won’t know whether you’ve read a direct message from them. 
  • Comment filter:You can let Instagram know if there are specific words, phrases or emojis you don’t want to see and they will not come up on your posts again. You can do this in your privacy settings. 
  • Comment warning: Instagram notifies people if they are writing a comment that other people may consider offensive before it’s posted. This can be a good opportunity to reflect on whether you really want to post something, and how it might impact someone else. 
  • Muting: If you mute another account, you will still be following them, but you can decide when you want to view their content. The account you’ve muted won’t know you’ve muted them, so it’s a good way to make your feed more positive while avoiding any potential conflict that may come from unfollowing or blocking someone. 
  • Blocking: If you block someone, you won’t see their content anymore, they won’t see yours either, and your account won’t appear in their searches or suggestions. 

All social media channels have similar ways to reduce negative content, so check the help sections to find out how to make your online world more positive. 

You can also report anything you find abusive, harmful or upsetting on all social media channels. Find out how to report things on: 

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest | Snapchat | YouTube | TikTok

How can I look after my privacy?

Here’s some advice to help you work out what to share, how to avoid oversharing, and how to look after your privacy. 

  • What you put online stays online –even things you delete can be saved or screenshotted – including those Snapchat snaps meant for just one friend. 
  • Online strangers are still strangers –forums and group chats can be a great way to connect over things you wouldn’t say face to face, but don’t feel pressured to share more than you feel comfortable with. 
  • It’s easy to over-share on social media sites, especially if you forget who can see your profile. You can use social media channel settings to create lists so that only people you trust can see all your updates. For example, Instagram allows you to make your account private, or you can use the Close Friends tool to share your stories with a group of people you’ve chosen. 
  • Privacy is possible – make sure you use social media site settings to protect your information. Don’t hesitate to block anyone who makes you feel uncomfortable.