Guide to Keeping Your Child Safe Online

For many of today’s young people there is no line between the online and offline worlds. Young people use the internet to socialise and grow and, just as you guide and support them offline, you should be there for them online too. Talk to them about what they’re doing, if they know you understand they are more likely to approach you if they need support. 

A good way is to set boundaries with your child about what they can and can’t do online.

Here are some examples:

· Limits on the amount of time your child spends online, or playing computer games.
· Not sharing any pictures they wouldn’t be happy to share with you.
· Not giving out personal details, such as mobile phone number and address, to people they don’t know and trust.
· Coming to you if they are concerned. Or, if not, knowing where they can go for independent help and support.

Most social media sites your child will use, like Facebook & Twitter, will encourage them to share information about themselves with others.
This might be:

· Opinions – such as what they like and don’t like.

· Pictures and videos of themselves.

· Information about themselves – such as their name and where they live.

The internet is a great tool for sharing information like this and young people love to keep up-to-date with what their friends are doing. However, it is important that they think before they share as there can be risks with sharing personal information. Once you share information online, you lose control of it. It is important for young people to be aware of the implications of sharing different types of information.


Your child will be using services online to create a network of ‘friends’. Social networking sites, like Facebook, encourage and enable your child to link with their friends so they can chat, keep up to date, share photos and videos... and their opinions of them!

Almost every site online now has a social element. Whether it is finding out what music your friends are buying, to reading their reviews of the latest films or games, increasingly we see the internet through the eyes of our friends.

To young people, their idea of an online ‘friend’ may be different to an offline ‘friend’. Friends online might be your best mate, your entire school, friends of friends, people you meet gaming, or even just someone with a funny profile. Therefore, online ‘friends’ are likely to be a much larger group than friends in the real world.

Making someone your ‘friend’ gives them access to things you share – that could be; what you like, who you like and even where you live...Therefore, the larger the group of friends, the more people can see things about you. As you might expect, this can be risky,for more information on risks, click here.

Here are four things you should discuss with your child to help them protect themselves when socialising online:

Know who your friends are. Because ‘friends’ have access to their personal information and can chat to them, your children should only be friends with people that they trust. Talk to your child about who their ‘friends’ are, encourage them to think about where and when they ‘met’ people and whether it is appropriate to share information with them.

Manage the information you share with them. On most sites, children can control the amount of information they share with different groups of friends. For example, you might share some holiday snaps just with your family, or create a private invitation to a party. Your child should only share personal information, like their telephone number or school, with people they know and trust in the real world.More information on risks online

Never meet up with someone you only know online. People might not always be who they say they are. Make sure your child understands that they should never meet up with anyone they only know online without taking a trusted adult with them.

Know what to do if someone upsets you. Sometimes ‘friends’ can do things that are upsetting, it’s important that you and your child are aware of what you can do to block or report this –click here more information on steps you can take.

My child is under 13, should they have a Facebook account?


The internet has changed the way that young people play games. Games can be played against anyone in the world, at any time and for as long as you want.

In the past, computer games were something you played against the computer, or friends that came round to your house. They were also something that you ‘completed’ and then moved onto the next one.

Online, you can adventure in complex worlds, create characters, and meet and make friends to fight battles and go on journeys together...

Almost anything that connects to the internet will allow you to play these games – desktop computers, laptops, consoles, like Playstation or Xbox, or even mobile phones.

Gaming is great fun, but just as with anything online, there are risks you should help your child navigate. It’s important that you’re involved in your child’s experiences, even if it feels like a different world! Here are some simple ways to help your child game safely.

Click here for tips on helping your child to game safely

Talking to People

Young people use the internet to talk to others in a number of different ways: emailing, instant messaging, webcam and chat rooms. The online world provides young people with the opportunity to be inquisitive, explore relationships and actively seek risks, such as flirting with people that they don’t know.

Chatting online feels different to chatting face-to-face. It can be easier to say and reveal things that you wouldn't in the real world, and be mean, aggressive or flirtatious.

It is important for young people to remember that there are offline consequences to online behaviours.

As a parent or carer, you need to understand the ways young people communicate with others, and the potential risks.

Until you feel your child is responsible and mature enough to understand and manage the risks of communicating with people they do not know, then you should restrict the sites they use and people they talk to. Young people should be aware that they can:

Block contacts. Most chat sites enable you to block contacts to prevent them from communicating with you.

Report contacts - If someone is being inappropriate on chat sites, you can often report this directly to the site administrator. However, if your child has experienced sexual or offensive chat that has made them feel uncomfortable or someone is trying to meet up with them, you can report this directly toCEOP.

Click here for more information on Talking to People Online


Most sites your child uses will encourage them to share information about themselves with others. This might be:

-  Opinions – such as what they like and don’t like
What they are doing
Pictures and videos of themselves
Information about themselves – such as their name and where they live
Videos and music

The internet is a great tool for sharing information like this and young people love to keep up-to-date with what their friends are doing. However, it is important that they think before they share as there can be risks with sharing personal information.

Once you share information online, you lose control of it. It is important for young people to be aware of the implications of sharing different types of information.

Click here for more information on Sharing Online

Searching for Content

With a world of information at their fingertips, it’s easy for young people to actively search for material that might be inappropriate for their age, or stumble across things that might upset or disturb them.

The internet can provide young people with unrestricted access to adult material. At an age where they are developing socially and sexually, it is natural for young people to be inquisitive. The internet can support natural exploration of sex, relationships and identity; however, there is the risk of exposure to material that could be detrimental to their development.

One of the ways to help manage what your child is exposed to online is the use of parental controls. These are a good tool available to you; however, they are not a substitute for talking to your child about what they see online.

Click here for more information on Searching for Content Online

Using a Mobile Phone

Most young people in secondary school own a mobile phone. The devices themselves are becoming ever more powerful and many offer the same functions you might have on a computer. Many mobile phones can now:

Access the internet– this is no different to accessing the internet through a computer. Young people can go on any site that you can find online, including sites like Facebook, YouTube and also potentially age inappropriate sites.

Take and share photos and videos– most phones have a fully functioning camera. Young people can take images and videos and these can be shared quickly, easily and for free through text message, email or uploading to the internet.

Chat with instant messaging, video and text– young people can take part in private chats with people through their mobile phone.

Share your location– through GPS, many phones can now identify their user’s location in real time. This can then be shared on social networking sites and through other sites and applications.

Play games– young people can use their mobile to play games and download new ones, sometimes these can come at a cost. See ourplaying games section for more advice

Add and buy ‘apps’– apps are programs that you can add to your phone that enable you to do a wide range of things, from playing simple games to finding up-to-date train times. Some of these apps have a cost.

With all of these functions available, talking to people is now only a small part of what mobile phones are used for. It can be difficult to keep tabs of what your child is up to on a mobile phone.

Click here for more information on Using a Mobile Phone

Talk to your child about ... Webcams

As you may have seen in the media, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has recently warned of a concerning increase in sexual offending on the internet involving webcams.

Click here for more information on Webcams

How do I talk to my child about what they’re up to online?

As a parent or carer you have a challenging job, you need to know what your children are doing online and also help them to do it in a safe way. With technology changing on a day-to-day basis, the best way to stay informed is to get involved.

Click here for good ways to help you keep up-to-date with your children and teach them the basics of staying safe

Risks your child may face online

As with the real world, there are risks online and it’s important that you teach your child how to navigate them please click on this link to find further help and advice on the following subjects:



Inappropriate Websites

Losing Control over pictures and videos

Online Reputation

Viruses, hacking and your computer's security

What tools are there to help me keep my child safe?

As well as being involved in your child’s life online, there are a number of tools that you can use to help keep them safe.

This information has been taken from a website run by CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online protection)

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