The ASD Cyber Safe program is designed to be an accessible and empowering educational toolkit for autistic people to learn how to confidently navigate the web independently.
Advice on how to handle different situations, as well as tips for parents/caregivers are provided to help understand what to look out for, establish open dialogue, discuss shared values, and encourage trust.
Hi, I’m Netty and I’m autistic, just like you! I’m here to teach you how to be safe on the internet. I love playing games online and chatting with my friends - in fact, most of my best friends and community are on the internet as well.
I also do a lot of other stuff on the internet that isn’t just for fun - I can check my bank accounts, pay bills, order groceries, compare products I want to buy, or take online classes.
But even though there are lots of great and useful things online, sometimes we have to be extra careful. I’m going to teach you about some sticky situations and what we can do to stay safe.
Come along and I will tell you more in the next videos! And don’t worry, this isn’t a test. You can watch them in any order you wish and take your time. Or watch them over and over again. You get to choose. See you in the next videos!
Hi, I’m Netty and in this video I want to talk to you about privacy on the internet and how to stay safe.
I know your parents and teachers probably told you it’s bad to lie, right? It is! But there are times when we have to keep some things to ourselves that are private. I’m going to help you make good decisions to know when to keep stuff private and what we can share. Keeping some information to ourselves and being private is not the same as lying. We don’t tell everyone every single thing about us.
Let’s imagine the internet is like your bedroom. When you are alone in your bedroom, it’s totally private. What you say and do in your room all alone is just for you. If you change your clothes or take off your clothes, no one else will see or know, and that’s OK.
Now imagine you open the door to your room and let one trusted person in. It could be a family member or a friend. The internet is just like that. If you go into a chat with just one person, this is like opening your door and letting them in your room. Now one other person will see or hear what you are saying and doing. It might be embarrassing if they were to see you with no clothes! So we have to be aware of what we are saying and doing.
Now imagine you open the door and let a few more people in. You are friends with these people, so you don’t mind them in your room, but we have to be even more careful about what we are saying and doing.
And finally, the most public part of the internet is like you are in your room with some people, but the door is open and you can’t control who walks in or out of your room and watches and listens. This is when we have to be most careful about what we say and do. Just like you don’t take your clothes off in public, you shouldn’t take your clothes off in pictures or video on the internet and share those with anyone, ever. You could get into a lot of trouble with the police.
To be safe online, it’s best to be our kindest selves - don’t write or say bad words, don’t say mean things to people even if they say mean things to you, and don’t take off your clothes or take pictures of people with their clothes off. Tell one of your trusted partners if you ever see something like this.
Join me in the next video to learn more about how to stay safe online.
Hi, I’m Netty and in this video, I’m going to talk about relationships on the internet.
Whew, relationships can be complicated, but if you’re like me and autistic, sometimes communicating on the internet makes everything way easier! We have time to process and think about what we want to say. We can ask for help to know how to say the right thing. And we don’t have to worry about eye contact or body language being confusing. And some of us just aren’t good at using our mouths to talk, but we can type or use sign language. The internet makes that so much easier for us to communicate.
Being in internet communities has made it super easy for me to find autistic people just like me and make really good friends.
But it hasn’t always been fun. Sometimes some people use the internet as an easy way to make fun of me and bully me. Some people who I thought were my friends messaged me online and called me names. They wouldn’t leave me alone! They said things about me that weren’t even true! I was really upset for a long time, but I finally told my trusted partners and they helped me. I learned that what these people are doing is called cyberbullying and it’s against the law.
When people do bad things, it is OK for them to get into trouble for it. Don’t feel ashamed. It’s important for you to stand up for yourself and remember you are so important and so loved by all your friends and family.
In the next video, I’ll talk more about different kinds of relationships and how to stay safe.
What we Keep to Ourselves
Hi, I’m Netty and in this video I’m talking more about the kinds of things we should keep to ourselves.
Remember, there are certain things we keep private and there are some things that just don’t belong on the internet, no matter what. I’m going to tell you a bit more about what those things are.
If we picture ourselves in the middle of our own little universe, where you are at the center, you and facts about you are the most important things to keep private. So first of all, your body - it’s yours and yours alone, so other people do not get to see it, touch it, or take pictures of it without your permission.
Then we expand the circle a bit to our home. Things that are private to your home are the pet names your family might have for you, your phone or email passwords, your banking information, and your birth date.
We don’t just give the keys to our home to anyone, right? Just like we only let some people in our homes who we trust, we don’t give out information about certain things on the internet to people. We usually don’t give out our home address or our phone number to strangers. We do make exceptions when there’s an emergency and we need the police, an ambulance or firefighters to come to our house. We also give out our address when we order something online.
The further away people are from the center of your own private universe, the LESS personal information they should have about you. When we’re on the internet, we need to treat most interactions with people as if they are the furthest away from you as possible.
The reason for this is there are some tricky people out there who may want to find out your personal information so they can steal from you or do other bad things with your information. Also understand that sometimes, even if you have done everything right to try to stay safe on the internet, some sites might get hacked (broken into) and your information gets out and is stolen. If this happens, don’t blame yourself and know that it’s a problem that can still be fixed. Even when we do everything right, bad things can still happen. Don’t be afraid to ask for help! I promise you, it’s not the end of the world and there’s a solution to every problem.
OK, when you’re ready, let’s go to the next video!
Hi, I’m Netty, and in this video I’m going to talk about online friendships and how to stay safe.
If we know a family member or friend in real life and we connect with them on the internet, that makes it easier to know what to share with that person because we know them pretty well already. But when we meet someone online first before meeting them in person, it can be harder to know what to say. When we’re not sure, we should give the least amount of information.
Sometimes we meet people at school or work and then add them on social media. We can start by sharing some details and they can gradually move closer to your inner circle if you trust them and get along.
Other times, the easiest way to find other people like you is to join an online group specific to your interests or some aspect of your identity. You might be left-handed and enjoy playing chess while blindfolded. It can be hard to find others like you in your daily life, but you might easily find other left-handed blindfolded chess players online. Again here, even if you are super excited to find others just like you, you should still keep some private information to yourself.
There are also some people who will pretend to be your friend so they can trick you into saying or doing bad things you wouldn’t normally do or say. A little alarm bell should go off in your head if you start to see some of these signs:
- A person you don’t know approaches you online or in real life and immediately wants to be your friend. They tell you how wonderful and smart you are. They give you a lot of compliments and invite you to join their group.
- They give you a lot of gifts or money for things you need. They might feed you, buy you new clothes, or pay your bills.
- They tell you they are your best friends now and no one else likes you. And you should stop talking to your other friends and family.
- They say a lot of nasty things about groups of people who are not like them. Stuff that you never believed or knew before.
- They ask you to do things that you would never normally do. Some of these things might be illegal and get you into trouble.
If this happens, those aren’t real friends and it’s never too late to get help. Real friends, online or not, love you just as you are and don’t try to change you or make you do bad things.
I care about you, too and we all want you to be safe! Check out the next video to learn more ways to stay safe online.
Hi, I’m Netty and in this video, I’m going to talk about relationships and dating online and how to stay safe.
Sometimes it’s easier to meet someone online where we don’t feel as judged or misunderstood. Sometimes it’s the easiest way to find people who share our interests or the same sexual orientation as us (people we’re attracted to). There are apps and sites specifically for autistic people to meet up, and lots of different kinds of dating sites, but we still have to be careful.
Not everyone is who they say they are online. Some people try to trick others into making you think they are someone they are not. They might pretend to be a woman, when they are actually a man. Or they might say they are 18 years old, when they are actually 15 years old.
Why do people do things like that?
Well, sometimes they just find it fun. Others don’t think you would like them if you knew who they really are. And some people do it because they enjoy tricking people. It’s hard to say exactly why, but there are still things you can do to try to stay safe.
No matter what, it’s important to remember that you can always ask for help from a trusted partner and that you can always say, “no” or “stop.” Anyone who really cares about you will always respect you when you are uncomfortable and they won’t pressure you into anything you don’t like.
In any relationship, there is never a rush or a deadline. If you are meant to be together, it doesn’t matter how slowly you go, it will happen eventually. If someone is telling you that you have to rush into meeting them or do something with them, that’s a sign that maybe that person is not the right person to be with.
Even when you are online just for fun, to chat or to find love, we still have to be our kindest selves. That means, speak kindly to others even if we disagree with them. If someone else says “no” to something, you need to stop. Remember, you can always take a break from a conversation, turn off your phone or computer, and take a time out. And even if you are really attracted to someone and they are to you, remember that we don’t share pictures or videos of our private body parts with anyone online.
Good luck and stay safe!