So back to our most recent Hot Topic! The first question we asked our young people was: ‘Have you or anyone you know had any issues online over the past year or so?’
Unfortunately, most of our young people said that they had, especially when using Instagram and playing online games.
One of our young people mentioned that making friends online can be a difficult process, since some people aren’t who they say they are and can use fake accounts.
We also talked about account hacking and spam messages, especially over Instagram messenger and text. A lot of people at group had been sent spam messages before, including receiving text messages from fake Royal Mail and DPD numbers asking them to pay a fee for an undelivered parcel.
It’s important to be wary of suspicious messages, even from people you know! If you’re ever in any doubt, don’t click on links or attachments within a message. You should either ignore the message or, if it’s from someone you know, ask them if they meant to message you. They might not have realised they’ve been hacked.
If you have been hacked, it can be a good idea to message people and put up a post to let your friends know, so they don’t open any links or messages the hackers sent using your account.
Quite a few of our young people also mentioned playing online multiplayer games, many of which have voice chat features that allow you to talk with other players.
One of our young people mentioned getting ‘doxxed’ during an online voice chat, where their account information was leaked to other users who sent them a lot of spam messages. Luckily, they were using a VPN that protected their location details (a VPN – Virtual Private Network – is a security feature that makes your internet connect private and can help protect your personal data).
When asked to reflect on the experience, the young person said they weren’t too bothered by it, but it was the sort of thing that could be difficult to deal with for other people depending on the situation.
Another one of our young people mentioned that they had heard a lot of offensive language while using voice chats. A lot of these games are also played by older teenagers and adults, so the language is not always appropriate for younger people.