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.

Display video transcript
supporting pre-teens online 11-13

at this age it's likely that your child

will become more independent

spending more time online gaming

chatting and browsing

so it's vital to continue to talk to

them about online safety

this will help equip them with coping

strategies to deal with any online risks

they face

and help them be happy and healthy

online here's what you can do to help

set up parental controls on your home

broadband as well as all

internet-enabled devices that your child

has access to

many will have inbuilt controls to help

you manage which apps and sites your

child can access

and for how long helping you ensure

their time online

is positive and has a purpose our setup

safe parental control guides will walk

you through the steps

so you can get set up in just a few

minutes get them involved when setting


so they feel part of the process make

sure to review them as they grow and

become more active online

as the internet rapidly becomes a more

regular part of your child's daily life

make sure you enable safe search

settings on popular sites that they're


like google and youtube set boundaries

or have a family contract

to set their expectations for the sites

and apps they can use

remembering that you are a role model

and they will copy what they see you do

encourage them to leave devices outside

the bedroom at night

and have regular screen free family


there may be an increasing number of

ways your child will be online

gaming consoles personal assistants

laptops for school

as well as smartphones so stay

interested in what they are doing

respecting their growing independence

encourage them to use their devices in

shared areas

and set up a user account just for your


most children get their first smartphone

before they are 12. but if you feel they

aren't old enough

explain why and help them deal with any

pressure from their peers to get a

device to fit in

keep them safe on the move by making use

of inbuilt safety settings on mobile

networks and devices to filter out

inappropriate content

check age ratings on games apps films

and social networks to see if they are

age appropriate

for game ratings check out the pan

european game information


or peggy ratings and look for age

ratings in app stores

have conversations with your child about

how they use the internet

and what they may find there most social

media platforms have a minimum age of 13

or above

but many children use them so consider

whether your child is mature enough to

post responsibly and manage any risks

they may encounter

encourage them to develop their critical

thinking making it a habit to question

what they see online

and not to take everything at face value

teach your child ways that they can

protect themselves online

like enabling strict privacy settings

using block and ignore functions

and the importance of keeping personal

information private

remind them that not everyone they meet

online may be genuine

and they should never meet anyone they

have only met online in real life

without you or an adult they already

know and trust

help your teen feel confident about

saying no if they're asked to do

anything that makes them feel worried or


and to tell you about it

connected technology is hugely positive

for most children

you can help them develop a healthy

relationship with screens and tech

teaching them how to have a good balance

on online and offline activity

and a balanced digital diet

because safety on the internet matters


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 RDI Friendly WiFi symbols when you’re out and about.

Have an agreement

Agree and set boundaries with them or have a family agreement 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

pdf image

Device use

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

pdf image

Biggest parental concern

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

pdf image

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-teens 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


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?”.


Digital Parenting

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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


Mumsnet Guide

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


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.


Internet Matters Wellbeing Apps guide

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


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 activities to do with your child


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.



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


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.


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.


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



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.


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.


BBC iPlayer Kids

BBC iPlayer Kids app gives children easier access to their favourite programs, while parents can be confident they’re watching shows appropriate for their age and free from adverts. Sign into the BBC iPlayer app and create a children’s account to start using it.