For the next few weeks, we’ll be following on from last week’s blog post by using our twitter and Instagram to stay #ConnectedWhileIsolated. The UK is currently in lockdown, and this can be a really scary, anxiety-inducing time! So it’s important to us that we find ways to keep in touch, spread some positivity, and help take care of one another. But we have to make sure we do all of this safely!

The first step to keeping each other safe is to #StayHome. Of course, for some of us, this isn’t always a safe option. If you (or someone you’re worried about) don’t feel safe at home, please visit http://safelives.org.uk/news-views/domestic-abuse-and-covid-19 for more information (or, if in immediate danger, call 999.) Otherwise, we’re staying inside and socially distanced.

Now we’ve been calling this ‘social isolation,’ but maybe this isn’t actually a good term for this. What we should be saying is ‘physical isolation.’ You can still be social! You just can’t do it in person. Video calls with friends and family are a great way to keep in touch and maintain emotional health and wellbeing. And if that’s not an option, there’s still social media.

Many of our #ConnectedWhileIsolated suggestions involve using social media and engaging with others online. So it’s important that we make sure we know how to do this safely.

Here are 5 quick tips:

  1. Don’t Share Personal Information
    This is perhaps the most important rule, and includes things like your full name, date of birth, address, phone number, email address, school, place of work, and of course any of your passwords. Make sure you also don’t share any details about anyone else either.
  2. Use Strong Privacy Settings
    Every social media site has privacy settings, most of which can be customized. Don’t assume that your privacy settings are automatically strong, many sites like to set them to something weak so they can better advertise to you. Go to the privacy settings of your social media accounts and change these to as strong as possible!
  3. Choose Strong Passwords
    Remember that a strong password should contain numbers, letters and symbols, and should be over 8 characters long when possible!
  4. Use Sites You Can Trust
    Watch out for fake news sites, or online shopping sites for brands you’ve never heard of. Don’t download apps or programs from unknown sources, and don’t click on peculiar advertisements. Otherwise you may expose your device to harmful viruses! Essentially, keep to well-known and trusted websites for everything you do.
  5. Be Careful What You Post
    Once something is online, it’s there forever! Think carefully about what words and images you want to post. And be careful with who you share it with. Think about who you’re engaging with online, be careful when engaging with strangers. Remember that not everyone is who they say they are. It’s okay to block, mute and report anyone that makes you uncomfortable.

If you experience something online that concerns or upsets you, be sure to tell someone. But hopefully, by following these 5 simple steps, staying #ConnectedWhileIsolated can be a positive experience for you. Follow our twitter and Instagram and let’s all stay engaged with the LGBTQ+ community while you’re in lockdown!

And for more information and resources, check out the following:

http://q42.org.uk/57-e-safety/

https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/news/2018/june/top-5-tips-for-staying-safe-online/

https://www.thinkuknow.co.uk/14_plus/

https://www.childnet.com/young-people/secondary/hot-topics

https://www.youngstonewall.org.uk/system/files/staying_safe_online_-_stonewall_childnet.pdf

Spread the word : )
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