It’s impossible to know if someone you meet online is genuine or a fake. Here are CEOP’S top five things to look out for while chatting online:

Too good to be true?

Do they like all the same things as you and give you loads of attention? Are they really nice about things you post like photos? We all like attention and it’s great to meet people who like similar things but remember some people use the internet to make friends with young people and then abuse their trust. If you think someone might not be who they say they are tell an adult you trust or report to CEOP.

Giving presents and making promises

Do they make promises or offer you gifts if you will do things for them? Giving gifts and making promises can be a way of putting pressure on you. If you feel under pressure to do something you don’t want to do, you might be chatting to someone unsafe and should talk to an adult you trust.

Putting you under pressure

Do they try to talk about things you’re not comfortable with, like sex? Do they ask for pictures of you that you wouldn’t share with your mum or your teacher? It’s wrong for anyone to put pressure on you to do things you’d be embarrassed about or don’t want to do. If anyone puts any pressure on you or makes you feel uncomfortable you should tell an adult you trust or report to CEOP.

Leaving public places

Have they asked to ‘private message’ or to add you on a social network or mobile app? Ask yourself, why do they need to chat in private? Games, chatrooms or forums are usually ‘public places’ where other people can see your conversations. Sometimes they will have ‘moderators’ who can look out for anything dodgy. You should keep your chat in a ‘public place’ to stop anyone from saying or doing anything weird.

If you do private chat with people you meet online be very careful not to reveal any information which could help them identify you in the real world like your full name, photos or your email address.

‘Just our little secret’.

Do they tell you to keep your chat secret? Do they say you’ll be in trouble if you don’t? If they ask you to keep secrets they might be trying to stop you from getting help if things get weird or you feel uncomfortable. You shouldn’t keep secrets for people you meet online. If a secret is making you worried or anxious tell an adult you trust or call ChildLine on 0800 1111.

Stay safer when chatting online, remember these CEOP tips:

What could they find out?

If you post stuff online, think about how much people could find out about you from it. Have you posted about your favourite music or sports? Have you posted anything embarrassing you wouldn’t want your parents or a teacher to see? Remember, people do lie online and the more information they have about you the easier it is for them to try to trick you.

Don’t say too much

If you’re chatting to someone, don’t tell them anything which could help them find you in the real world – things like your full name, school, email address or even photos. Remember, even if you’ve been chatting for ages you still can’t be sure that they aren’t up to no good.

Be careful on cam

It can be really unsafe to chat on webcam with people you meet online. If you do anything embarrassing – things you wouldn’t want your friends or family to see – it’s really easy for them to record it. Some people online will threaten to share an embarrassing video or picture with other people if you don’t do what they say. If anyone threatens you in this way they are breaking the law and you should report them to CEOP. Whatever has happened, you won’t be in trouble.

Don’t meet up without an adult you trust

People do lie online so it’s always risky to meet up face to face with someone you’ve met online. If you do meet up with someone, make sure you do it in a busy public place and take an adult you trust with you. If you take a friend you could put them at risk as well. Tell the person you’re meeting you want to meet in a public place and that you’re bringing an adult with you. Anyone who genuinely wants to be friends should understand that you want to make sure you are safe.

Block and report

Most websites you can chat on will let you ‘block’ other people if don’t want to talk to them anymore. Learn how to do this on any sites and apps you use. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable or upset ‘block’ them.

Know how to report

No matter how long you’ve been chatting and whatever has happened it’s never too late to seek help if someone starts being weird with you, makes you feel uncomfortable, worried or frightened. If you don’t want to talk to an adult you trust you can always phone ChildLine on 0800 1111 or report to CEOP. They will understand and be able to help. You won’t be in trouble.

Worried about someone you’ve been chatting to online?

Worried about someone you’ve been chatting to online?

Talk to an adult you trust, like a parent, carer, teacher or youth worker. If you don’t want to speak to someone you know there are organisations who can help. You won’t be in trouble.