At Ballymena Today we know that lots of young people are getting ready to go back to school and after a summer of selfies, snap chats and photo albums it is a great time to check that your online life is ready to go back to school too. What do we mean? Well if you have been using social media throughout the summer to keep in touch with school friends and adding new-found friends on Facebook and Twitter now is a good time to go through all your apps and social media accounts to check that your privacy settings are keeping you safe online.

Is your Online life ready to go back to school?

Read this from the Safer Internet Centre and carry out the checks – then you can go to school knowing that your online life as protected and secure as you can make it.

To make sure you are ‘back to school’ ready we have some top tips for social media which can help you stay safe whilst staying connected to your friends:

  1. Friends: consider who you choose to accept or invite as a friend on your social networks. Once you accept someone as a friend they are able to see your content. If someone is aggressive or inappropriate to you online most social networking sites have tools to help you block or delete that person.
  2. Privacy: most social networking sites have tools available to protect the things you post online and how much you share with others. It’s really important to check your privacy settings.  We would recommend that you change your settings so that you are only sharing with your friends.
  3. Think before you post: It is important to remember that once you post something online it is potentially there forever! This also relates to content that you post about others; what starts out as a joke or gossip can quickly escalate and cause real pain and upset that can’t be taken back.
  4. Photos: remember your profile picture is the first impression you may give someone. Think carefully about the photos you choose to share online and keep in mind – would you want a future employee to see that photo? 
  5. Reporting: most social networking sites have a reporting feature in place. If something or someone has broken the social networking site’s terms of use and are upsetting or harassing you, then you are able to make a report. All reports are anonymous and will be responded to promptly. The Need Help section on the Childnet website provides advice on reporting on your favourite social networking sites.  We also have a series of checklists for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and which show you had to report on each service.  Click here for checklists. 

Going back to school is a fun and exciting time as you get to meet up with your friends and classmates who you have missed over the summer and you should be focused on your face to face interactions. Consider using the month of September as a few weeks where you can put effort into your real life relationships and enjoy time away from a screen. That will give you time to catch up on what everyone has been up to, and let you make time for your homework from your new classes! You will be surprised by how much you will enjoy your real friendships without having to share it over social media. Consider checking that your online life ready to go back to school.