pre-teens (11-13)

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.

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of 12-15 year-olds own a tablet ¹


children aged 11 to 12 who have a profile on a social networking site have had an upsetting experience on it ²


of children aged 10 to 13 use the internet for 3 hours or more a day ³

Learn e-safety tips with our interactive video

This video will help you understand what you can do to give pre-teens the best experience of going online. The clickable links will lead you to more information.

Internet safety checklist for pre-teens

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.

Learn about what pre-teens might be doing online

What issues might affect pre-teens?

  1. Ofcom Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes Report (Oct 2014) p.32, Figure 8
  2. Younger children and social networking sites: a blind spot (NSPCC 2013)
  3. Cybersafe Opinion Leader Report (Sept 2013)