Hide this page

Online Safety

Many children use the internet for education, social and leisure purposes. Children are naturally trusting, curious and keen to explore the web. Keeping up with and supervising children’s online activity can be challenging, especially when they have their own computers, smartphones, tablets and game consoles or they are in other people’s homes. Understand the risks yourself and plan ahead before allowing children safe access to the internet.

The Risks

  • Inappropriate contact: from people who may wish to abuse, exploit or bully them
  • Inappropriate conduct: because of their own or others’ online behaviour, such as the personal information they make public. They may also become either targets or perpetrators of cyberbullying
  • Inappropriate content: Being able to access sexually explicit, racist, violent, extremist or other harmful material
  • Commercialism: Directing aggressive advertising and marketing material at children
  • Inappropriate access: Children gaining access to your own personal information stored on your computer
  • Misinformed use: Children enabling viruses or spyware by careless or misinformed use of your computer

Keeping Children Safe Online

There are several ways to safeguard children online. Undoubtedly the most effective way is to educate them from an early age about the risks they may encounter when online, what these risks are, how to spot them and what action to take so that they can have a safe online presence and build their resilience.

  • Set ground rules about the use of the internet, email and texts. They should learn to take responsibility for their own actions and develop their own judgement
  • Make children aware that people online may not be who they say they are
  • Children should keep personal details private
  • Ensure that they use a family email when filling in online forms
  • They must never meet someone they have only met online without a trusted adult present
  • Get your children to report concerns about conversations, messages and behaviours to you or another trusted adult.
  • Encourage them to share their internet experience with you and keep the lines of communication open with your child
  • Get children to report bullying immediately
  • Use parental control settings on your browser, search engine and internet security package
  • Make sure your child is viewing only age appropriate materials
  • Make sure your child is aware of the law around sexting
  • Block pop-ups and spam emails
  • Always sit with younger children if they are online
  • Be aware for any unusual or secretive behaviour from your child when they are using the internet

Consider creating a Family Agreement , setting clear expectations and boundaries


Sexting is when someone shares sexual, naked or semi-naked images or videos of themselves or others, or sends sexually explicit messages. They can be sent using mobiles, tablets, smartphones, laptops - any device that allows you to share media and messages.

Sexting can be seen as harmless, but creating or sharing explicit images of a child is illegal, even if the person doing it is a child. A young person is breaking the law if they:

  • take an explicit photo or video of themselves or a friend
  • share an explicit image or video of a child, even if it’s shared between children of the same age
  • possess, download or store an explicit image or video of a child, even if the child gave their permission for it to be created.

Sexting may also be called:

* trading nudes *
* dirties *
* pic for pic *

Further information and advice

There are many national organisations and charities that provide helpful lots of advice on online safety, such as how safe certain sites are, how to set parental controls, game ratings explained, chat safety, app info and reviews and more. Some services are listed below, but there are many more listed on our National Resources webpage.

UK Safer Internet Centre

The UK Safer Internet Centre is a partnership of three leading organisations: Childnet International , Internet Watch Foundation iwf.org.uk and SWGfL swgfl.org.uk , with one mission - to promote the safe and responsible use of technology for young people. You can find online safety tips, advice and resources to help children and young people safe online


Internet matters

Get expert support and practical tips to help children benefit from connected technology and the internet safely and smartly. From age-specific online safety checklists to guides on how to set parental controls on a range of devices, your'll find a host of practical tips to help children get the most out of their digital world.

NSPCC Net Aware

NSPCC and Mumsnet have created a simple guide to the most popular apps based on the experiences of parents and children. Each app has been given a rating for things such as how appropriate the content is, the privacy settings and what the average minimum age should be for children signing up to each one.

Childnet international

A non-profit organisation working with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children. They have lots of information and resources to help you support your child to have a happy and safe online experience.

Common Sense Media

An independent non-profit organisation which helps families make smart media choices, offering a large library of independent age-based and educational ratings and review of movies, games, apps, TV shows, websites, books and music.

Parent Info

Parent Info provide support and information to parents, children and schools, working globally to help families to navigate the internet safely and confidently. They work with parents, schools, governments and businesses to study, understand and address the impact of emerging technologies on young people.

Worried About A Child?


In an emergency please call the Police on 999

If you are worried a child is, or at risk of, suffering, neglect or abuse please contact the Children's Reception Team on 0300 300 0117 (available 24 hours a day).

You do not need to know everything about the child before contacting the Children's Reception Team.
If you are concerned, it is important that you talk to someone about this.