Internet safety & dangers of digital piracy

Learn about the risks for children and ways to protect themDownload Report

Understanding dangers of digital piracy

If you are concerned about your child accidentally, or even intentionally, accessing illegal or inappropriate content then you’re not alone. Together with Mumsnet, we asked parents about their experiences of the risks they see with digital piracy.

This report will share these risks along with advice and practical tips to keep your child safe when watching TV through internet-connected devices.

What’s inside the report?

According to Mumsnet users, exposure to inappropriate content is the top concern of parents when they consider the risks of digital piracy.

Other parental concerns include the illegality of digital piracy and the risk of Internet-connected devices being susceptible to malware and viruses.

According to Mumsnet users, exposure to inappropriate content is the top concern of parents when they consider the risks of digital piracy.

No safety net for children

  • When streaming illegal content online, you are accessing an unrestricted and unmoderated area of the internet
  • There are no parental controls, which means there is no safety net for your children putting them at risk of viewing inappropriate content. This can include upsetting images, information or language

Exposure to adult content

  • This age-inappropriate content brings risks to children as it exposes them to material usually directed at adults, inaccurate information or information that might lead or tempt them into unlawful behaviour


  • Streaming pirated material puts your personal devices and security at direct risk
  • Those behind digital piracy can install spam ads, viruses and malicious software that can obtain personal information
  • Industry Trust data found that six out of ten children between the age of 11-15 don’t know that downloading or streaming from illegal sites can result in malware ending up on their device

Who is breaking the law?

It’s important to know, when it comes to streaming unauthorised copyrighted content; the viewer, the person sharing the stream, and anyone providing links to it are all breaking the law.

Understanding what is legal

The sale and use of streaming devices without illegal software installed on them is fine. But as soon as they’re sold or used with pre-loaded apps that allow users to stream content that should normally be paid for, it is illegal.

Risk of prosecution

Whilst families haven’t yet been the target of police investigations, the consequences of watching pirated content should be considered, both from a legal standpoint and the inappropriate content, children could
be exposed to. For example, a man was recently hit with a £85,000 demand for sharing his stream of a pay-to-view boxing match on Facebook with over 4,250 people

There are a few things that you can do to help protect their children from the risks of digital piracy:

  • Use parental controls to restrict access to internet browsing on devices connected to the internet. Be aware that there are no parental controls on illegal streaming devices so children may be at risk of seeing inappropriate content
  • Stick to legitimate services when you watch content online or on your TV as these should be appropriately age rated
  • Download apps that you trust onto streaming devices or smart TVs, such as BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Demand 5. Subscription services like Netflix, Amazon Prime and NOW TV also have apps with kids content you can download
  • Explain the risks of streaming and watching illegally pirated content to your children and show them where they can watch content safely
  • Set online boundaries by finding out what your child likes to do online and agree which websites and apps are best for them to use

more info

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More to explore

Here are more resources to help you keep your child safe online

Online safety age guides

Download digital piracy infographic

Parental control guides

FOSI Piracy guide