And know your rights!
Know Your Rights!
The age of criminal responsibility is 10. This means that once you reach that age you can be punished for your actions because you should know what's right from what's wrong.
This includes cyberbullying (bullying someone using technology). If you insult someone based on their race, ethnicity or sexuality, because of the Protection from Harrassment Act, you could get in serious trouble. (2.6 percent of teenagers say that they have been bullied at least once on Facebook, 23.8 percent say that they have been bullied on Twitter, 17.7 percent on MySpace and 15.2 percent on Instant Messenger. Even if you think it's just a joke you could still be prosecuted under the Malicious Communications Act, so be careful what you say when you're on social networks, on games or even texting...
Even though many people don't realise it, you can get in a lot of trouble with texting- for example, sexting. Sexting is sending a sexual picture of yourself or even someone else by text. Under the Sexual Offenses Act, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to take part in sexting. Even if the person that you are sending the photo to is over 18, they would be in possesion of an indecent photo of a child and therefore could be prosecuted. So, don't let anyone tell you to send pictures of yourself to them, even if it is your boyfiend or girlfriend because you could both get in trouble.
Age of Consent
The Sexual Offences Act states that no child under the age of 16 can legally consent to being involved in sexual activity. In court there is no defence for any person being sexually involved with anyone who they know is under 16. They can be prosecuted and be put on the sex offenders register and get a criminal record, even if both participants are under 16. Under the same act, anyone asking a person who is under 16 to do a sexual act for them, or touching them in a sexual way can be prosecuted. Also, anyone acting sexually towards a child of under 13, can be prosecuted- there are no defences in court for this.
Child Exploitation Online Protection (CEOP) is there to help any child who feels like a victim due to harassment of any kind online. You have probably seen the 'Click CEOP' button on a number of websites- if you ever feel threatened or abused by someone or a number of people, you should click that button- it will go straight to the police. They can track down the bully or harasser and they could be prosecuted, depending on your age and the crime committed.
This is a link to the CEOP website: http://www.ceop.police.uk/
Social Networking Sites
Most people these days, at one point in their life, will be on a social networking site- for example Facebook, Twitter and Bebo are all social networks. You need to be careful- make sure that when you post something that it's not something that you could well one day regret because people can use those things against you and if it's online, you can never completely get rid of it.
Unfortunately, on social sites, there are weird people who don't have your best intentions at heart. If, on Facebook for example, somebody sends you a friend request who you don't know, don't add them- it's as simple as that. They might not be who they say they are- there have been many cases of people saying that they are teenagers and posting pictures of young people as their profile pictures, but it turns out that they are just old men who want more than to just be friends with you. They may ask you to do things that you don't want to do- if you ever feel uncomfortable, you should always tell someone who you trust- the second that you click the webcam button, they could be recording whatever they do- one day, they could use it to blackmail you. Also, if one of those people adds you, they may send requests to your friends and, seeing that the 'teenager' has mutual friends, they are more likely to add them. If you are worried, you should report them- before something goes wrong. You will NOT get in trouble, whatever you have done.
Privacy settigs on networking sites like Facbook are very important- you should make sure you have them to the highest security that you can, or else random strangers can see everything you do online without you even knowing it. For example, if a stranger came acrosss your page and saw that you had posted that you were on holiday online and you'd written somewhere on the 'About' section of your page where you lived, they would know that your house is empty, and they could go a steal things. Remember, almost a third of the world who have access to computers have Facebook- that leaves room for a lot of nasty people. If you have your privacy settings right up, there is no way they could manage that.
Also, as your profile picture, it is fine to have a picture of you so that your friends can find you online, but it would not be a good idea to have one of you in your school uniform, especially if your privacy settings are not high, because then anyone who see your profile can work out where you go to school, your name, maybe your address and more- so be careful what you post.
Remember that any video that you post online could be there forever- you can't ever really get rid of it on the internet once you post it. It could be seen by your parents, your friends, your teachers, even your future employer- anyone and everyone, people who you want to keep it from could eventually see it- once you post, that post is out of your control and it could potentially affect your future career or your time at school, so be careful!