Social media concerns

Find expert advice to make the most of the screen time and help children share safely.

Girl holding a smartphone

What’s on the page?

Top tips to help children share safely on social 

Help your children share safely with tips from our experts.

What makes an online friend?

From video games to social media, children talk to many people online. With help from Yubo, we’re encouraging parents to talk with their children about what makes a friend.

  1. Talk with them about what it means to be a friend: Explain that online friendships, just like offline friendships, are respectful and filled with trust and kindness.
  2. Explain the difference between an online friend and an offline friend: the information we share with our friends in person will be much different than what we share with friends online. Help them understand what should stay private.
  3. Ask them to show you their favourite apps and sites: Explore the communication options and safety features, and what they can do if their online friend isn’t treating them in positive ways.

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How to spread positivity online

It can be easy to spread negativity online, especially when children can’t see the person on the other end of their words. Help children spread positivity this festive season with these key tips supported by Samsung.

  1. Use online tools to teach important issues: Created with Samsung, The Online Together Project features two quizzes that can help you and your child challenge stereotypes and hate online for a more positive online experience.
  2. Show them how to use safety features: Every app or site or game will have their own set of safety features. Make sure children know how and when to block and report in whatever they do online.
  3. Challenge kids to take action against hurt online: Whether that’s reporting poor behaviour (even if it’s not directed at them) or reaching out to support a victim, show children how to spread good vibes online.

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How technology can support quality family time

From playing video games to trying out new skills with Alexa, technology can help your family spend quality time together. With support from Amazon Kids, we’re sharing tips on making the most out of family time with your home devices.

  1. Explore multiplayer games that you can play as a family: Find games that encourage team work and competition within your family. From popular games like Rocket League and Minecraft to lesser-known award winners like It Takes Two and Sackboy: A Big Adventure, you can find a range of games to suit your family.
  2. Set aside time for movie or game nights: This festive season is a great time to set aside special time to focus on one activity like a movie night with your favourite streaming service or a quiz night using apps like Heads Up, Alexa skills or AI tools.

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What does balanced screen time look like?

This festive season, help children feel like their time online is meaningful. With support from Virgin Media O2, we’re sharing tips on balancing screen time.

  1. Take regular breaks: Different children have different needs but breaks from devices entirely is a good way to help them regulate their time online and experience fun and quality family time offline.
  2. Try new apps and games: From learning new skills to playing lesser known games, using screens for a range of purposes can help children explore new ideas and passions.
  3. Work together to set limits: Using parental controls and in-app settings, work with your child to set limits on their favourite games. This will encourage them to try a range of things online.

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How to set up their first device

The festive season is a popular time for children to get new devices. Alongside Tesco Mobile, we’re sharing helpful tips on getting those first devices set up safely.

  1. Set up safety before wrapping it up: Whether it’s the new iPhone SE or another device, customise its safety features before giving it to your child. From parental controls to curated apps, you can help them start on the right foot.
  2. Install apps you want them to use: Google Family Link, Apple Screen Time and Microsoft Family are just some of the parental controls apps available to use across devices. Install and set them up before gifting their device.
  3. Create your Little Digital Helps Toolkit: Whatever devices your family get this festive season, creating your toolkit will set you up with everything you need to know to put safety first.

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How do you talk 'digital' with your child?

Many children and teens use social video games to stay in touch with friends outside of school while having fun, so it’s important to talk about this aspect of their life the same way you would about their offline interests, friends and school. With support from PlayStation, here are some tips to support regular chats.

  1. Make it normal: Avoid only having conversations about their digital experiences in response to something that goes wrong. Instead, talk about their digital lives every day — over dinner, on school pick-ups, during drives to the shops. Ask them what happened in their game, who they play with and why they enjoy their time online.
  2. Listen to what they have to say: When you ask them about their video games or time online, make sure you listen and show active interest. Try not to interrupt or turn your attention elsewhere while they talk otherwise they might not feel like sharing as much.
  3. Ask them for suggestions: Pick up your own controller or console based on their interests and ask them for video game suggestions. They can show you something new and you’ll learn a little about how they engage with their online world.

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Show children the importance of being authentic

The images and content children see online can impact their understanding of the world and themselves in both positive and negative ways. Along with TikTok, we’re sharing tips on helping children stay true to themselves online.

  1. Regularly talk about what they see online: Regular check-ins on how social media impacts their view of themselves can help your child recognise when something is negatively impacting them. You can also discuss what to do when this happens.
  2. Curate their social feed: Work with children to focus on positive content on their social feed. Use safety and privacy settings to hide content that could negatively impact their self-image or hide who they are.
  3. Engage in social media with them: Join their favourite apps, support their interests and build-up their confidence by showing you have their back.

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How can you set the whole family up for online safety?

As we spend more time living and working online, we recommend utilising the tools available to combat the increasing number of cyber-attacks to keep your family safe. These may be included at no extra cost by your broadband provider, such as TalkTalk’s HomeSafe network protection, or additional anti-virus tools to add extra security for devices and online activities. Safety tips include:

  1. Block inappropriate content and websites through your broadband security parental controls.
  2. Create a family agreement to set clear guidelines on use and set periods where browsing is disabled.
  3. Ensure safety tools are activated and set up to support your family’s needs.

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Play and game together

Playing multiplayer games with your child is an excellent bonding experience and can show them how to engage with games in positive ways. With support from Supercell, we’re encouraging families to play video games together.

  1. Try something new: Instead of playing games you always play, choose something new to support your child’s discovery of new interests.
  2. Lead by example: The way you react to in-game things such as other players, frustrations or scary situations shows your child how they should react. So, keep things calm and positive, and show them when it’s time to take a break.
  3. Ask them to show you the way: Get them to teach you how to play their favourite games and ask them for tips on getting better; they’ll be happy to share something they’re passionate about.

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How to keep video games positive and safe

Playing video games is a popular hobby among children of all ages. Along with Roblox, we’re sharing advice on keeping those experiences positive.

  1. Review safety features: With whatever game your child plays online, review with them the safety features. Show them where to block and report (and why).
  2. Set parental controls: To add an extra layer of safety, set parental controls on devices or in games. You can set age restrictions and limit who they talk to.
  3. Talk to them about their games: Ask them how to play, why they like it and about anything exciting that happened to show interest and stay on top of their safety.

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Manage wellbeing while streaming content

Over the festive season, your family might like to stream content across your favourite platforms. Along with Sky, we’re giving parents tips on keeping streaming experiences positive.

  1. Set up individual accounts: Most streaming platforms let users create multiple accounts. Some also have special kids accounts. Set these up for your child to ensure the content they see is appropriate for their age and development.
  2. Decide on watch limits together: Some platforms have in-built screen time features, but you can also set timers or episode limits to promote regular breaks and other activities.
  3. Schedule in family time: Streaming platforms like Now TV have a large range of content for all users, including families. This festive season, why not set aside regular movie nights with all other devices put away?

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How can you encourage video game variety?

Video games are a great way to connect with your child or as a family while having fun. With support from EE, here are some tips to help your child and family explore new and unique games.

  1. Start with games they already love: Use the aspects of games they already love to find new suggestions. You can see our recommendations of some multiplayer games with EE GameSmart.
  2. Think about building skills: Plenty of video games can help children develop skills related to strategy and problem-solving, but there are also many games that can support skills like coding and language learning. These games promote learning and fun all in one.

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Build lifelong skills with tech

Technology can help bridge the skills gap through apps, videos, games and activities. Along with Amazon Kids, we’re encouraging parents to support their children’s skill-building online. Here are some tips to help:

  1. Start with their passions: Whether they like creating social media videos, playing strategic video games or writing grand epic stories, you can find a range of apps and games to help develop those passions and skills.
  2. Learn skills together: The festive season often has moments of chaos and peace. In those moments of peace, find a skill to learn together. Maybe it’s learning a new language, creating a video for TikTok or creating a webpage. Learning a skill with your child is a great way to spend quality time together.

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Have fun, encourage creativity and stay safe

For our last tip of this festive season, we’re encouraging creativity. With support from Samsung, here are some ways to support your child’s creativity:

  1. Experiment with videos: Whether your child is interested in vlogging, tutorials or funny stories, create videos together to share with friends and family.
  2. Play together: Use AI tools to make up stories, take turns drawing impossible things, play around with funny video filters. Make room for laughter this festive season.
  3. Let your child take the lead: Have them choose activities that promote creativity, or let them plan a fun day during their school break for the whole family.

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Some apps may share my child’s location even if they aren’t being used...

Make sure geo-location is disabled to keep their whereabouts private.

To help your child understand how this will help keep them safe, you can:

  • Explain why it’s important that they never share personal information with people they don’t know online.
  • Remind your child to come and talk to you if someone or something online is making them feel uncomfortable.
  • Be clear that your child should never ever meet someone face to face without your consent or your presence, and that the person they’ve been chatting to could easily be someone with bad intentions.

Expert resources

Adele’s vlog on disabling smartphone location

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 09.24.17

If you’d like a step-by-step guide on how to disable your child’s location on their smartphone, visit our parental control how-to guide to help you set it up on an Android or an iPhone.

Visit iPhone parental control guide

Visit Android parental control guide

Have they been affected by content shared online?

Encourage them to think about why friends may share certain posts. Show them how to gently challenge their friends if they find their content offensive. Remind them they can always talk to you about things happening online.

  • Judge what effect the content is having on your child. Ensure they know that they should report abusive or inappropriate content on the social platform and consider blocking anyone that may be saying hurtful things.
  • If they are deeply affected by the posts, consider advising them to take a break from the social network and concentrate on other activities that might make them happier.
  • If you feel that the comments may be affecting your child’s mental health and wellbeing, it’s best to go and see your GP. Depending on the seriousness of the comments, it might be advisable to file a police report. If you do take this step, make sure you keep some evidence that records what’s happened and how it’s affected them.

Expert resources

FOSI Reporting inappropriate content guide

Learn more about reporting inappropriate content on social sites with support from the Report Harmful Content website that showcases where and how you can report concerns on social networks.

Go to expert resource >

Have they shared embarrassing images on social?

Remind your child that these images are their personal digital footprint for years to come and advise them to use settings that only let them share with friends they know.

You can also help them maintain a positive presence online by:

  • Encouraging them to think before they share. They should understand that their actions online can affect both themselves and others.
  • Teach your child that it’s difficult to keep things private online. Even messages sent between friends get passed on and accounts can be hacked. You should also tell your child not to post anything they wouldn’t want thousands of people to see.  If they’re not happy to wear it on their T-shirt they shouldn’t post it online.
  • Be a role model so your child understands that you’d never post anything that you wouldn’t want them to see. 

Expert resources

CEOP’s ‘You and your tattoo’


CEOP’s ‘You and your tattoo’ has some excellent advice to help your child manage their online reputation. Together with your child you can watch the interactive film and discuss the issues that it raises to learn together and teach them ways to keep their online presence positive.

Go to expert resource >

Are they online gaming with strangers?

Playing games online can be fun and positive but make sure your child understands people may hide behind fake profiles for dishonest reasons and learn how to block and report anything offensive.

  • Have an open discussion with them about who they are talking to online. Explain the risks they may face, and consider using parental controls to limit who they can play with online. Most consoles offer parental controls, but also check any social media platforms they may be using while gaming.
  • Remind your child that they should never give out personal information when chatting to someone they don’t know online, and make sure they understand what personal information is.
  • Be clear with your child that they should never meet someone face to face without your consent, or you present. Show them how to block and report anything offensive and encourage them to talk to you if someone or something online is making them feel uncomfortable.

Expert resources

Online gaming guide

Learn more about the social gaming platforms that your child might be using and how to keep them safe.

Go to expert resource >

Are they ready to share on social?

Most social media apps have a minimum age rating of 13.

If a social network has set an age limit it means that some of the content may not be suitable for a younger child.

Recommendations if your child is under the minimum age for a social network and they want to join:

  • Research the social network, find out what type of content your child may be exposed to. Decide whether they’re ready for it. Encourage them to join age-appropriate social networks like Kuddle.
  • Discuss if they’re mature enough to handle the type of content they may see on social platforms and if you feel comfortable with them possibly being in contact with adults and strangers.
  • We’d strongly advise you to follow the minimum age rating. If you do say yes, use strict privacy settings and either ‘friend’ your child or ask a family member to.

Expert resources

Age guide for social

Take a look at our guide to find out the minimum age required for the most popular social networks

See social age guide >

Are they chatting to strangers online?

Make sure your child understands that people may hide behind fake profiles for dishonest reasons and the person they’ve been chatting to could easily be someone with bad intentions.

  • Remind your child that they should never give out personal information to someone they don’t know online. Make sure they understand what personal information is. According to our research on average 6 out 10 of children’s online friends are not ‘real’ friends offline.
  • Be clear with your child that they should never meet someone face to face without your consent. Show them how to block and report anything offensive. Your child should know they can come and talk to you if someone or something is making them feel uncomfortable online.


Chatting to Strangers Online

Learn about helping your child understand the difference between friends and those who may seek to do them harm to ensure they have a safer online experience on social media.

Go to resource >

Do they know how their actions online can hurt others?

Talk together about peer pressure and how screens and anonymity can lead to behaviour that is hurtful.

No parent wants to think of their child hurting someone online through cyberbullying. To help them exhibit positive online behaviour you can:

  • Explain bullying and cyberbullying to your child. Talk about the things they might see or read online.
  • Discuss how to respond if they see offensive content online and what might be good, or not so good to share.
  • Talk about the blurred line between uploading and sharing content because it’s funny or might get lots of ‘likes’ versus the potential to cause offence or hurt.

Expert resources

Internet manners

manners1 sqSee our top Internet Manners to help you and your child get to grips with behaviors that will promote a kinder social media world.


I think my child is being bullied on social media…

Stay calm, listen without judging and reassure your child that you can help. Discuss any action you may take together. Encourage them not to retaliate and to save any evidence.

Talking to your children about cyberbullying is as important as talking to them about any other type of bullying. Children who are being cyberbullied usually find it difficult to talk about it and it can be an upsetting, awkward and difficult subject for parents too.

Make sure they know they can talk to you if anyone ever upsets them over the internet or on their mobile phone, and give them the space to talk about anything without being judgemental or getting upset.

Expert resources


If your child is being cyberbullied on social networks, there are lots of ways that you can put a stop to it such as reporting it, blocking the person(s) who is bullying your child, and taking screenshots of the bullying comments.

We’ve created a cyberbullying conversation starter guide offering the right expert advice to help protect your child from cyberbullying.

Go to page>

Does your child have hundreds of social media followers?

Make sure they know that some people may not be who they say they are and tell your child how privacy settings can put them in control of who they talk to.

  • Discuss what it means to be a ‘friend’ or a follower online, the pros and cons of having lots of these ‘friends’ and the importance of knowing that they’re people you can trust.
  • Be clear that if someone doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, they’re no friend.
  • Tell them about not replying to or blocking any followers they don’t know. Make sure they know never to meet up with anyone they have only ever met online and don’t know in person.

Expert resources

How to guides  


Help your child stay in control of what information they share by taking a look at these “How to” guides to setting privacy settings on popular social apps.

Go to the guides >

If you’re worried your child is spending too much time on social media….

Talk together so they understand your concerns. Agree house rules on when and how long they can go online and which sites they should visit.

  • It’s a good idea to give their eyes half an hour’s rest from the screen before bed.
  • If it helps, tell your child that you’re putting your mobile or tablet away too – younger children are more likely to mirror your actions.
  • Try using Forest – an app that gives your kids a great incentive to stay away from their screen. It lets them grow a forest full of trees and the longer they leave their phone untouched, the bigger the forest grows.


Balancing screen time diet

Find simple tips to help children develop healthy online habits and a good digital diet to help them thrive on and offline.

Download the guide >

Are they sharing inappropriate selfies?

Discuss the reasons why they feel the need to share such images and the potential long-term impact this could have on them if the pictures are used without their consent.

Peer pressure and the desire for attention can be reasons why some children feel the need to share inappropriate photos with their online friends.

  • Encourage them to share content that focuses on what they like to do rather than what they look like.
  • Make sure they know that it is illegal to share naked images of themselves. We’d advise to wait until they’re emotionally mature to understand why they shouldn’t share such image before allowing them on social media.
  • Talk to them about the importance of spending time with real friends without feeling the need to gain approval by getting a certain number of ‘likes’ on a photo they’ve shared.

Expert Q&A

Conversations to have with teens about nudes & sexting

There has been a rise in people using video-streaming apps and sites to sell their nudes or sexually suggestive content. With concerns raised about how social media and tech play a role in teens sharing images, our Internet Matters expert panel provides their advice on teens and sexting, sending, and sharing nudes.

See page>

Girl peaking through her hands

Have they shared too much personal information online?

Talk to them about who they’ve shared the information with and assess the risk it poses to your child. You can also ask your child to remove the information from their account and help them understand how to share safely.

  • Make your child aware of the potential risks of sharing personal content online such as online grooming or cyberbullying.
  • Help your child understand how to remove information that could pose a risk to them.
  • Check that your child has set their social network account to ‘private’ so their shared information can only be seen by people they know. See our ‘how to guides‘ to find out how.

Parent stories

Tips from parents on how to prevent kids from oversharing online

On the topic of oversharing on social media, we asked a parent to give us her take on it and what real life tips she could offer to other parents struggling with the same issue. Here’s what she shared with us.

View page>

Want more personalised tips and support?

My Family's Digital Toolkit can provide safety information that's personalised for your child's digital habits.

Find out more

Tech tips to balance screen time

Make screen time work for your family with these practical tips.

Got a gamer on your hands?

If your child is a keen gamer and into games like Fortnite or Roblox, why not take the time to play a game together to be more aware of the benefits and the risks that they experience when they play. You can also use our top 6 gaming tips to ensure they have a safer experience gaming online.

Binging on box sets?

We all love a great box set but you might like to turn off the auto-play setting on the platform to help children balance time on and offline. Visit our screen time hub to learn how.

Know your TikTok from your Snapchat?

If you feel in the dark about the apps and platforms that your child is using, get yourself familiar with them – check out our Apps & Platforms articles. This is a great way to stay engaged with their online use and give them the right advice about how to stay safe.

Also, check out our Digital Resilience Toolkit to help them build the right coping strategies to make smarter choices online.

Gifting smart toys to little ones?

If you’re planning to get your child a smart toy for Christmas making sure you understand what it does and how it communicates with the online world matters to ensure your child’s data and privacy is safe.

See our Smart toy parent buyers guide on other things you need to consider.

I've never heard of that app!

If your child has downloaded an app that you’d like to know more about, Common Sense Media has a large array of reviews on a range of apps, media and YouTube channels that will help you understand the risks, and get an idea of what other people think about that app as well.

Can't get kids to switch off?

Find apps and games like Heads Up and Bloop to enhance your family time over the Christmas celebrations and beyond. We’ve also got a list of age-appropriate apps that can help make screen time active.

Too much snap-sharing?

If your child is spending too much time on social media sharing their latest selfie or scrolling through their feed, why not strike up a conversation about what they share and with who. See tips to help you start the conversation and keep it going.

Want a screen free day with the kids?

If you’d like to have a screen-free day to make the most of family time, there are a number of great tools that can help you do just that. The Forest App is a great app that grows beautiful forest on your device the longer you don’t use it. You can use it to gamify your screen-free day and encourage children to learn how to balance screen time better.

For ideas on how to make screen-free days great, visit NurtureStore to get ‘Screen free activities‘.

Bought a tech toy for the big day?

If you’ve bought your child a console, smartphone, or tablet for Christmas it might be an idea to get it set up with the right control settings, charged, and ready to use before you wrap it up. See our Set up safe guide to help you get started and save time on Christmas day.

Screen time taking over family time?

Help the whole family build good online safety habits by setting up a family agreement to set digital boundaries on when, where and how screens and tech is used.  Childnet has a great Family Agreement template you can use.

Building good online habits

Use our Internet Manners top tips to help children develop good ‘netiquette. You can also use tech tools to help create a safer environment for them to explore, whether it’s Apple’s Screen Time tool or Google a range of family tools including Digital WellbeingGoogle SafeSearch, and YouTube Restricted Mode.

Visit our parental control how-to guides to find step-by-step guides on how to set digital boundaries to help your child enjoy their digital world smartly and safely.

Parent stories and expert advice

Here is a selection of articles from parents and online safety experts to give you further tips on how to help your child stay safe on social media and manage screen time.

Girls taking selfie Experts offer advice on online sharing

Expert Panel

See what the expert say on questions surrounding oversharing and monitoring what children share online.

Teenagers playing videogameMum gamer shares experience

Vicky Winstanley

Mummy gamer shares how she helps her son navigate the online gaming world and her concerns around potential risks.

Additional tools and resources

To help your child make smart choices on social, we’ve pulled together a selection of useful expert e-safety resources.

An introduction to social media for parents

UKCCIS-logo-IMThis practical guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media platforms was developed by Internet Matters, NSPCC, Parent Zone, and UK Safer Internet Centre.

  • A brief summary of why children use social media
  • Outline of the risks children may need to deal with
  • Practical tips to help minimise the risks your child might face