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Get online: take control of your health

Be safe online

Staying safe online isn’t hard and you don’t have to be a technology expert to follow a few simple rules to protect yourself or others. Remember, if you wouldn’t do it in the real world, then don’t do it online. The Metropolitan Police has issued some facts and rules around internet safety that you may find useful. These include:

  • Don’t give your personal details to strangers (address, phone number, full name).
  • Don’t send explicit pictures of yourself to strangers.
  • Don't open emails or attachments from people/organisations you don't know or have never dealt with before.
  • Don't add people on social media you don't know.
  • Never meet someone in person who you've only met online.
  • Talk to a trusted friend or carer if you see or read anything online that upsets you or makes you feel unsafe.

Advice for people with learning disabilities

If you are a parent or carer of a child or adult with a learning disability, then take a look at the guidance provided by charities such as Safer Net or the Down’s Syndrome Association. These charities offer advice tailored to people with learning disabilities.  

Keeping children safe online

If you want to explain internet safety to your child or teenager, try the Think You Know website, which tailors information to children of different age groups, teachers, parents and carers. The website also offers advice on how to report online abuse or what to do if you posted something you regret.

Cover your tracks

Advice for victims of abuse, domestic violence or stalking

The internet is an ideal way to search for information and support anonymously, but unfortunately it is possible for others to track what you've been viewing online.

There is no way to completely disguise your movements online. However, to cover your tracks, you could use a computer at a local library, an internet cafe, a friend's house or at work, instead of your home computer.

For more advice, you could also read the following:

While you are online

If you’re worried someone might come into the room and you don’t want them to see what you’re looking at, you could open another browser window or document and keep it open behind the site you’re looking at. This way, if you need to close a window quickly, you’re not left looking at a blank screen.

Deleting cookies and address histories

Be aware that removing data from your computer might be noticed by the person you want to cover your tracks from. If you share your computer with others, then clearing your cookies means information saved, such as passwords for online banking, will disappear. Because their passwords will no longer be saved, the people you share your computer with may realise that you've removed data. They may also notice if the address history on the PC has been cleared, which may arouse suspicion.

Clear internet history after visiting a website

When you browse the internet, information about the sites you visit is stored in the internet browser you use on your computer. To minimise the chances of someone finding out you’ve visited a particular website, clear your internet history. However, be aware there may be other ways for someone to work out which sites you’ve visited.

Private browsing

Most browsers also offer the option of "private" or "incognito" browsing. This prevents pages you view being stored in your browser’s history, cookie store, or search history after you’ve closed all your "private" tabs. However, any bookmarks you create or files you download will be kept. Your internet service provider, (if you are at work, your employer) can still see your browsing history.

Page last reviewed: 08/10/2015

Next review due: 08/10/2017

Think U Know

Guide to internet safety and safe surfing for young people run by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre

Click clever, click safe

Click clever, click safe

Campaign offering internet safety advice for young people and parents

Health and fitness trackers

Tools and apps to help you reach your health goals after your NHS Health Check