Protect your child

Help your child take control of what they share online and learn how to build a positive online reputation that will support their future education or career aspirations.

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Talking to your child about their online reputation

You can help your child maintain a positive presence online by ensuring they understand the long-lasting effects of social media and other online activities. It’s a good idea to talk about these issues before they start to create a digital footprint.

Practical tips to help your child manage their digital footprint and create a positive online reputation.
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You can help your child maintain a positive presence online by ensuring they understand the long-lasting effects of everything they do online. It’s a good idea to talk about these issues before they start to create a digital footprint.

Let them know that their online reputation comes partly from what they post about themselves and partly from what others post about them.

Teach your child that it’s difficult to keep things private online. Even best friends can pass on messages you’ve asked them not to. Children should never post anything online that they don’t want thousands of people, including their family, to see.

Children should understand that their actions online can affect both themselves and others. They should never say anything about anyone they wouldn’t want said about them. Nasty comments they make now may reflect back on them for years to come.

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Taking care of your digital footprint’ – advice from Childline for young teens.

Visit Childline

Download Childnet’s online reputation checklist to help manage your child’s digital footprint.

How to create a positive digital footprint

Here are some ways you can help your child take control of how others see them online and create an online reputation that will highlight their strenghts and passions to serve them in the future:

Private can mean Public

Teach your child that it’s difficult to keep things private online. Even best friends pass on messages you’ve asked them not to, accounts and profiles get hacked, and companies can change their privacy policies. Children should never post anything online they don’t want thousands of people, including their family, to see.

Maintain positive online behaviour and social media profiles yourself

Set an example in the way you behave online, be aware of how you use social media and tell your child that you would never post anything you wouldn’t want them to see.

Think before they share

Children should understand that their actions online can affect both themselves and others. They should never say anything about anyone they wouldn’t want said about them – and remember that nasty comments they make now may reflect back on them for years to come.

Build a positive online presence

Your child can use their online presence to build a positive reputation for themselves – for instance by writing a blog on a topic they are passionate about.

Deactivate and delete unused or incorrect profiles

When your child stops using a social networking profile or website, it’s a good idea to deactivate or delete their account. This will mean that the account is no longer live and shouldn’t be searchable online. However, make sure you’re fully informed – as deleting doesn’t always prevent information from being shared (e.g. Google Photos keeps collecting information even after the app has been deleted)

TEDx talks on the impact of digital footprints through the spoken word from Teacher Michelle Clark.
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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 NSPCC site

Use our five top tips to give your child’s smartphone or tablet a health check up to get it set up safe

Manage children’s social activity

It’s important to keep the conversation going and take an interest in what your child is doing online. Here’s your essential toolkit.

Online toolkit to manage their social activity
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It can be tempting on social media to get carried away and say things that can later cause issues. Here are 3 simple tips to keep kids ground on social media.

Being creative

Encourage your child to use different social platforms to display their skills and talents. It could be using Snap Chat stories to create an engaging CV or YouTube to showcase a range of talents. You could also encourage them to publish school projects to reflect their academic achievements.

Being friendly on social

Although simply ‘being nice’ sounds simple, it can actually go a long way. Encourage kids to compliment friends and give constructive comments on other people blogs and promote others’ efforts.

Being authentic

Although the internet allows children to be anyone online, it’s important to encourage them to be themselves and use their social platform to reflect who they really are. Being fake and telling half-truths can later backfire and cause issues later down the line.

More conversation starters

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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More info

Read the NSPCC’s guide to encourage your child to be ‘Share Aware

See Guide

More to explore

Here are some other useful articles and resources to help protect your child from online bullying: