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Chatrooms, Social Media, and Trolling


Chatrooms are virtual places on the Internet where people can get together and ‘talk’ using text.

Because the presence of such a large online community of anonymous strangers and the unfiltered, unmoderated discussions, you need to be aware of the potential risks of using chatrooms, and how to overcome them.


Chat Safely

  • Be careful who you trust online and remember that some online ‘friends’ are really strangers.
  • Keep your personal information secret when completing your profile or chatting online (name, address, telephone number, mobile number, private email address, picture), even if people ask for this.
  • Remember that you can always log out to avoid unwelcome situations or change your screen name.
  • Do not hesitate to block people you do not want to chat to.
  • Think before you answer private messages.
  • Do not use your real name – but instead a nickname (but not one that will attract the wrong type of attention).
  • Take action if you think your friends are at risk.
  • Learn how to keep/save a copy of the conversation in chat – this may be useful if you want to report something.
  • Report people breaking the rules to the chatroom provider.
  • Take care if meeting in person someone you have only been in touch with online.


Tell a family member or friend and consider taking them with you – at least on the first visit. Meet and remain in a public place. Always have a mobile phone with you which is switched on. Stay sober. Take care of your personal belongings.

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Social Networking

Social networking is a global tool, enabling people worldwide to stay in touch with their friends, share experiences and photographs and exchange personal content.

Various social networking sites are also valuable tools used by many companies and individuals to extend their contacts and deliver marketing messages.

The nature of social networking – having such a massive base of users who are unknown to you – means that using it carries a degree of risk including becoming a target for cyber-criminals.

You should follow a few sensible guidelines when using Social Networking sites:

  • Do not let peer pressure or what other people are doing on these sites convince you to do something you are not comfortable with.
  • Be wary of publishing any identifying information about yourself – such as phone numbers, pictures of your home, workplace or school, your address or birthday.
  • Pick a user name that does not include any personal information.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Keep your profile closed and allow only your friends to view your profile.
  • What goes online stays online. Do not say anything or publish pictures that might later cause you or someone else embarrassment.
  • Never post comments that are abusive or may cause offence to either individuals or groups of society.
  • Remember that many companies routinely view current or prospective employees’ social networking pages, so be careful about what you say, what pictures you post and your profile.
  • Don’t post your holiday dates – or family photos while you are away – as social networking sites are a favourite research tool for the modern burglar.
  • Learn how to use the site properly. Use the privacy features to restrict strangers’ access to your profile. Be guarded about who you let join your network.
  • Be on your guard against phishing scams, including fake friend requests and posts from individuals or companies inviting you to visit other pages or sites.

For more information and further online guidance:

What is trolling?

Not dissimilar from cyberbullying, trolling means intentionally upsetting, shocking or winding up selected individuals, groups of people or a more general audience who are usually people not known to the troll. It generally causes offence as a result of expressing extreme views, or purely for its own sake. Racist, religious, homophobic, political or social abuse are commonplace forms of trolling, but you could also be victimised for something as basic as the football team you support.

Trolling can be carried out by individuals, or groups of trolls with a common aim – to upset innocent victims.

What to do if you are affected by trolling

  • Block trolls’ social media accounts.
  • Report trolls to your internet service provider (ISP), mobile phone provider (if bullying is via texts or calls) or social media site/app.
  • Do not get wound up or show that you are, this is playing into the hands of the troll.
  • Talk to a friend, family member or other trusted person (such as a Safeguarding Manager or Designated Safeguarding Lead) about what is happening and how it makes you feel.
  • Keep upsetting emails, messages and posts as evidence if reporting the trolling.
  • Report serious trolling to the police if it is defamatory or likely to incite hatred.
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For more information and further guidance regarding online safety:

For information and guidance regarding Data Protection and Privacy please refer to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) Website: or call the ICO’s Helpline on 0303 123 1113.

To information regarding fraud and cybercrime, and to report fraud and cybercrime, please contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or


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