Forums and chat rooms can be fun, informative and even supportive.
You can post questions and get answers, chat with people who have similar concerns and learn new things from other people's experiences.
However you should always keep in mind that people who use the internet can easily lie about their age, interests, gender and identity. People you meet online are strangers and it’s important you know how to stay safe.
Keep your personal information safe: You should never give out any personal information when you are online. You wouldn't give your phone number out to someone you didn't know and the same applies when interacting with people on the net.
Do not give out your email address: It is best not to give out your email address, but if you do wish to exchange emails with people, make sure you set up an email address that does not use any word that could identify you, your family, or even your general location (such as the city where you live).
Avoid posting personal details: Many people read message boards but never actually post a message. If you post lots of details about your life then people who you aren't even aware of may also be able to work out who you are.
Don’t meet up with anyone alone: If you are a young person you should never meet up with somebody you meet online without telling your parents or taking them with you. Many young people who have met up with their “online friends” have been hurt and abused. Be very careful.
Take precautions: If you are over 18 and decide to meet up with someone you meet online, take sensible precautions. Take a friend with you, meet in a public place with lots of people around and make sure someone knows where you are going and when you will be back.
For more information on staying safe online and protecting your privacy, visit Get Safe Online.
Our team of regionally based Children, Young People and Family Support Officers are here to help. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, or you’d like to talk further about any of the above, then please get in touch with us by emailing [email protected] or calling us on 0303 123 9999.