Pre-teens (11-13)

Online safety advice

As children between the ages of 11 and 13 make the transition to a more independent stage with the move to secondary school, they become more confident internet users with more varied habits. Internet use can be hugely positive for children, but it’s vital to continue discussing online safety with them.

Internet safety checklist for pre-teens 

Use our list of practical tips to help children pre-teens have a safer online experience and build up their resilience to get the best out of the digital world as they grow. You’ll also find a range of helpful tools and expert tips for further support.

Checklist: Supporting 11-13-year-olds online

Have free and frank discussions

Encourage your child to talk to you about how they use the internet and show you what they do. Discuss with them the kinds of things they might come across. A good time to talk is when they get a new device or mention a new website.

Manage their devices

Encourage them to use their tech devices in a communal area such as the living room or kitchen and set up a user account for your child. If you think they aren’t old enough to have a mobile phone or tablet, stay firm and explain the reasons why.

Put yourself in control

Activate parental controls on your home broadband, all devices including mobile phones and games consoles. Safe search settings can also be activated on Google (and other search engines), YouTube and on entertainment sites like iTunes and iPlayer.

Stay safe on the move

Be aware that if your child is accessing the internet using public WiFi they may not have safety features active. Some providers are part of family friendly WiFi schemes with filters to block inappropriate content. Look out for friendly WiFi symbols like Mumsnet Family Friendly WiFi and RDI Friendly WiFi symbols when you’re out and about.

Have an agreement

Agree and set boundaries with them or have a family contract for their internet use, including when and where they can use portable devices and for how long, before they get used to doing their own thing.

Start discussions about social networking early

Talk to children about the benefits and risks of social networking before they join any sites. Let them know that anything they upload, email or message could stay around forever online.

Keep private information private

If your child does have a social networking profile, teach them to block or ignore people and how to set strict privacy settings. Request that you or someone you both trust becomes their ‘friend’ or ‘follower’ to check that conversations and posts are appropriate.

Check age ratings

The age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks are a good guide to whether they’re suitable for your child. For example, the age limit is 13 for several social networking sites including Facebook and Instagram.

Why it matters: Facts & Stats

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Device use

of children aged 12-15s who own a mobile are allowed to take it bed with them

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Biggest parental concern

Parents are concerned that children will actively engage in risky and dangerous behaviour such as contacting people they do not know

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Screen time management

of parents of 12-15s find it harder to control their child’s screen time

Resources document

See our parenting digital natives report to get more insight on parents concerns about their children’s digital lives.

Featured recommended resources

Learn about what pre-school children might be doing online

What issues might affect pre-teens?

Here are some of our favourite resources to help you learn more about e-safety for 11-13 year-olds and pass on the message to them. We’ve also highlighted some appropriate apps as they start to go mobile.

Guides and resources for parents

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BBC iWonder Guide

As part of our new partnership with the BBC, we’ve worked together to create an interactive guide to give you practical tips on how you can keep your children safe online. It covers 7 key areas such as “Taking control with tech” and “What kind of parent am I?”.

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Digital Parenting

Vodafone’s Digital Parenting provides checklists and practical advice on keeping children safe online.

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O2 and NSPCC online safety helpline

From setting up parental controls to reporting online bullying, you can call the free helpline on 0808 800 5002, or visit an O2 Guru in store.

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Google safety tools for families

Set ground rules with Google Family Link and use a range of safety tools to help the whole family build good online safety habits.

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O2  & NSPCC NetAware

O2 and NSPCC’s Net Aware is a guide for parents of 50 of the most popular social networks, apps, and games with children. You can download it as an app or visit the site to stay informed.

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Guide to tech: Using Location tracking on kids devices

Here’s what you need to consider before deciding to share your child’s location on their device and how to best use apps that offer location tracking.

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Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp tools to navigate social media safety

Get tools and tips to support your child’s digital wellbeing on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp

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O2  & NSPCC NetAware

O2 and NSPCC’s Net Aware is a guide for parents of 50 of the most popular social networks, apps, and games with children. You can download it as an app or visit the site to stay informed.

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Parent Info

Parent Info is a collaboration between CEOP and Parent Zone. It provides high-quality information to parents and carers about their children’s wellbeing and resilience. Schools can host the content on their own website and use it in any other ways (in letters to parents etc) that they want.

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Young Minds parents helpline

Young Minds Parents Helpline is available to offer advice to parents and carers worried about a child or young person under 25. Call 0808-802-5544 to get support.

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American Academy of Pediatricians 

Use the AAP’s ‏tool to create a family media plan to help you to think about media & create goals & rules that are in line with your family’s values.

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Mumsnet Guide

Advice and top tips for keeping children under five safe online.

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Guide to Monitoring apps

With the help of Pocket-lint’s Andy Robertson, we’ve given tips on how best to use them and reviewed the top apps available.

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Internet Matters Wellbeing Apps guide

We’ve scoured the best of the net to uncover popular (FREE) wellbeing apps available to download.

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Good App Guide

Use the Good App Guide to get independent reviews of children’s apps, parenting and child development advice. It is run by Fundamentally Children an organisation dedicated to helping children develop skills through play

Online safety activity to do with your child

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BBC Own It

Own it covers everything from online privacy and avoiding malware, through to dealing with everyday dilemmas children face online, as well as having fun. Quick links to charities and organisations like Childline, whose phone lines and online chat can provide urgent support should children need it, will also be available.

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Thinkuknow

Age-appropriate games, activities and information that can teach older children how to keep safe online.

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BBC Bitesize

Part of the BBC’s ‘Bitesize’ resources and suitable for children aged 11-14. An interactive video that helps children to recognise and avoid potentially dangerous situations online.

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Google Interland

This is an adventure-packed online game that makes learning about internet safety interactive and fun. In Interland, children can learn about avoiding badly-behaved hackers, phishers, and bullies by practicing the skills that they need to be confident online explorers.

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Stop Speak Support code

Created by young people for young people, the code offers simple steps to take positive action to deal with cyberbullying.

Apps to help children get the most from the digital world

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CBBC Apps

From Horrible Histories to The Dumping Ground: On A Mission app, CBBC apps are packed full of fun activities that will engage young children and help them learn through play.

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Sky Kids App

The Sky Kids app offers a fun and safer way for pre-schoolers to nine-year-olds to enjoy a wide range of popular kids TV. Parents have been involved in the development of the Sky Kids app. The result is an app that kids will love, supported by safety features that parents need.

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Popjam

This app aims to build a digital community where children can share art, stories, games, photos and contests that they’ve created with other like-minded children. Children can follow friends, other PopJam accounts, and their favourite band, artist or authors.

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BBC iPlayer Kids

BBC iPlayer Kids app gives children easier access to their favourite programmes, while parents can be confident they’re watching shows appropriate for their age and free from adverts. All apps are free to download on iOS from Apple and Android via Google Play or Amazon.