protect your child

Tips and tools to take positive action

The best way to keep your child safe online is to take an active interest right from the start. They need your love and protection online as much as they do in the real world. What your child is exposed to will depend on how they’re using the internet – social network users are more likely to experience cyberbullying, see sexual or violent images, or have contact with strangers.

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Challenge your child and learn about e-safety together with our tablet app

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The earlier you can talk to your child about making positive choices online, the better. Here are some conversation starters:

Use our age specific interactive guide to help talk to your child about cyberbullying.

What do they want to be online?

The choices we make online say something about who we.  Talk to your child about how the things they do online paint a picture of themselves, so they shouldn’t post things without thinking about it.

How much should they share about themselves?

Talk to your child about the risks of sharing, identifying where they live or go to school, and what people online might do with that information. Talk about what the risks might be of sharing personal thoughts and feelings.

more info

Read the NSPCC’s guide to making sure your child is ‘Share Aware’

See guide

How much time should they spend online?

Talk about the possible impact of spending too much time online and agree sensible ‘bed-times’ and breaks during the day. Create opportunities as a family to get ‘off-line’ and have fun together.

What can they do if they see something horrible or something bad happens?

No matter how many precautions you take there will be times where your child feels hurt, scared or confused by something they’ve seen or experienced. Calmly talk through what they’ve seen, how to understand it, and what you can do together to make things better.

What if they make a mistake or do something they later regret?

The important thing is that your child talks to someone if they’ve messed up. Try not to get angry or overreact. Work out together how to remove content and make amends for any harm caused. They find it hard to talk to you, so let them know they can always contact a confidential helpline if they need advice.

How can they know what and who to trust online?

There is a lot online that is made up or exaggerated, and there can be a lot of pressure to show what a great time you’re having. There is always the possibility that someone is not who they say they are. Teach your child to always be questioning and to talk to you if something doesn’t seem quite right. It’s never ever a good idea to meet up with someone you have met online without letting your parents know about it.

How can they make the online world better for other people?

We all leave our own digital footprint and have a choice whether that’s positive or negative. Encourage your child to think about the language they use, the things they say and share, and how that might impact on other people.

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Use this animated music video from Common Sense Media to talk with your child about the hazards of oversharing online

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It’s important to keep the conversation going and take an interest in what your child is doing online. Here’s your essential toolkit. Click on the plus sign to get the toolkit tips:

Magnifying Glass

Help your child to look closely at what people say online and not to believe everything they see and read. As they grow older it’s important to talk about how they manage romantic and sexual relationships online.

Plasters

Encourage your child to let you know if something they’ve seen or read has upset them. Explain that sometimes people say and do things in the online world that hurt even if they didn’t mean it.

Stopwatch

Know when to take time out. There comes a time when certain friends and followers are no longer good to have around – particularly if they’re making your child feel insecure or down. It’s also good to have regular breaks.

Whistle

Once your child has ventured onto social networks, work out together how to use privacy settings, and how the reporting and blocking tools work in case you ever need them. Agree how to respond to friend requests and communication from strangers.

Compass

Spend time with your child as they start their online journey, help them find the best sites and apps for their age so they have a safe zone to explore.

Accident evaluation form

We all make mistakes – and that’s true in the online world. Encourage your child to talk to you, or to someone they trust if they need advice about anything they’ve seen or done online.

Compass

Spend time with your child as they start their online journey, help them find the best sites and apps for their age so they have a safe zone to explore.

Magnifying glass

Help your child to look closely at what people say online and not to believe everything they see and read. As they grow older it’s important to talk about how they manage romantic and sexual relationships online.

Plasters

Encourage your child to let you know if something they’ve seen or read has upset them. Explain that sometimes people say and do things in the online world that hurt even if they didn’t mean it.

Stopwatch

Know when to take time out. There comes a time when certain friends and followers are no longer good to have around – particularly if they’re making your child feel insecure or down. It’s also good to have regular breaks.

Accident evaluation form

We all make mistakes – and that’s true in the online world. Encourage your child to talk to you, or to someone they trust if they need advice about anything they’ve seen or done online.

Whistle

Once your child has ventured onto social networks, work out together how to use privacy settings, and how the reporting and blocking tools work in case you ever need them. Agree how to respond to friend requests and communication from strangers.

As a parent you have some decisions to make about how you want your child to engage online and on social media and what measures you want to put in place to help protect them:

more info

Things to consider when giving your child their first smartphone

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Set up their device

Whatever device you choose, there are free controls you can use to stop your child from purchasing and using certain apps, seeing certain content, or limiting what they can share with others, like their location for example. Our interactive guide to setting parental controls covers the most popular range of devices and services children use.

Getting the low down on sites, games and apps

You will probably use social networks yourself, but you might want to know about new ones that your child is using, or wants to use. Use them yourself and set up your own account so you can experience what your child might see. There are also a number of child-friendly social networks they could use while they get ready for the likes of Snapchat and Instagram.

Privacy settings

Spend time together looking at the privacy settings. It’s always best to assume that default settings are public and should be changed accordingly. We’ve got some advice on using privacy settings on the most popular social apps.

A good profile

Use their nickname and a profile picture of their pet or favourite band, rather than themselves, and encourage them to only be friends with people they know in real life. Avoid sharing personal information like school, age and place they live.

top tip

With Net Aware from the NSPCC and O2 you can find out more about the sites, games and apps your child uses including minimum age limits

Visit the site

What does a good social media profile look like?

desktop

mobile

Blocking software

There are a range of new apps and software that block, filter and monitor online behaviour. You’ll need to decide as a family whether this is the right approach for you, taking into consideration your child’s age and maturity, and their need for privacy.

Negotiating the gaming world

In some games like Minecraft people deliberately try to intimidate other players. In multi-player games where gamers talk to one another – you might find abusive language, harassment and there have been instances of grooming. It’s vital therefore that your child knows how to report abuse and talks to you if something is causing them concern.

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Keeping your chid safe when they play online games

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All children can enjoy the benefits of getting online with the right support.  As a parent of a disabled child or child with special educational needs you might have additional concerns about potential risks but not using the internet can mean your child is isolated from other children and have an impact on them not only socially, but in school and the workplace.  The Anti-Bullying Alliance and Kidzaware have a range of resources to support disabled young people with getting online and with issues such as cyberbullying. Stonewall and Ditch the Label can also offer support to young members of the LGBT community to cope with bullying.

The online world can be a huge source of information and support for young people that feel different or vulnerable for lots of reasons. At some point your child may seek advice from the online world – whether through a search engine, through social networks or through a chat room and as a parent you can help your child find sites with good advice and factual information.

get help

ChildLine’s team of counsellors support children with any concerns or anxiety about how they feel

Deal with it

How to manage the situation if your child is affected

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Resources

Where to get further help and advice

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