social media tips for parents

Children are using social media to share their lives with friends, family and sometimes people they don’t know.

It’s important they understand how to stay safe online. Our handy tips can help you have open and honest conversations with them about using social media, from posting selfies to chatting and online gaming.

Scroll down to see the social media concerns and tap to reveal our top tips.

Now scroll down for the full tip and to get further expert advice below.

Or back to concerns

Select the social media concern most relevant to you and reveal the tip

Too much time on social media

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.

Family_agreement_5 family_agreement_3Childnet's Family Agreement

A family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet and discuss together how to behave in a positive way when online at home, at school or at a friend’s house.

Download the Family Agreement >

Hundreds of social media followers

My child has hundreds of social media followers, what can I do to keep them safe?

Explain 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.

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 >


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.

childline sqChildLine's guide to cyberbullying

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.

In blocking any groups, your child could lose contact with some peers so it can also be useful to try and talk to any peers that are friends, offline to resolve things.

ChildLine has created a guide to help you find out how to deal with bullying on different social networks

Go to guide >

Online actions hurting others

I'm worried my child doesn't know how certain 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.

manners1 sqInternet manners

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

Also, if you suspect that your child might be hurting others online through bullying, in this article "Help! My child is a Cyberbully", Lauren Seager-Smith of Anti-bullying Alliance offers great advice on what you can do to help them.

Inappropriate selfies

My child is posting inappropriate selfies, what do I do?

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, a search for identity and the desire for attention can be reasons why some children feel the need to share inappropriate photos with their online friends. To help them understand the potential risks of this behaviour and develop a healthy self-image you can:

Encourage them to share content that focuses on what they like to do rather than what they look like.

Make sure they're "Shareaware" – they should know it's illegal to share naked images of themselves and could lead to bullying or have a long-lasting impact on their self-esteem. If you feel they don't have the emotional maturity to understand why they shouldn't share such images, we'd advise to wait until they do before allowing them on social media networks.

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.

maxresdefaultThinkUknow's 'Nude Selfies' videos

To help you on what to do next you can watch a series of four videos from NCA-CEOP Command’s ThinkUknow education programme called ‘Nude Selfies – What Parents and Carers Need to Know’ to learn about sexting and nude selfies.

See videos >

'So you got naked online'

This resource from South West Grid for Learning offers children, young people and parents advice and strategies to support issues resulting from sexting incidents. There are versions available for England, Wales and Scotland.

Download the toolkit >

Chatting online to strangers

I’m worried about who my child is talking to 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.

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.

article-strangers-media-m-1100-180815NSPCC & O2's 'Strangers Online'

By being aware of what sites they use, making them aware of how to block people they don't know and encouraging them to keep their accounts private,  you can help your child be in control of what they share to protect them from issues such as grooming.

The NSPCC and O2 some great advice to help your child make smart choices about who they talk to and what they share online.

Go to expert resource >

My 11 year old wants a social media account

My 11 year old wants a social media account, should I let him?

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

If a social network has set an age limit it may mean that the majority of the content will be aimed at that age group and above. So the content may not be suitable for a younger child.

If your child is under the minimum age for a social network and they're still eager to be on it, we'd recommend you do the following:

Research the social network, find out what type of content your child may be exposed to, and decide whether they're ready for it. You could also encourage them to join age-appropriate social networks such as Kuddle.

Discuss whether they're mature enough to handle the type of content they may see on the social platform and whether you'd feel comfortable with them potentially being in contact with adults and people they don't know.

We'd strongly advise you to follow the minimum age rating. But if you do say yes, you should use strict privacy settings and either ‘friend’ your child yourself or ask a family member to do so.

social-media-age-restrictionsAge restrictions infographic

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

See age restrictions >

Online gaming with strangers

My child is gaming with strangers, what should I do?

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.

Being able to have an open and frank discussion about who they are talking to online is key. 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 meeting someone offline is dangerous and they should never meet someone face to face without your consent, or you present. Show them how to block and report anything offensive. Your child should know they can come and talk to you if someone or something online is making them feel uncomfortable.

resourceChildnet's introduction to online gaming

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

Go to expert resource >

Posting embarrassing images on social media

My child is posting embarrassing images on social media...

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.

Be a role model so your child understands that you'd never post anything that you wouldn't want them to see.

sddefaultCEOP'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 >

My child is affected by content online

My child is being affected by what people say or share 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. Make sure they know that they should report any abusive or inappropriate content on the social platform and consider blocking anyone that may be saying hurtful things to them.

If they are deeply affected by the posts, you might consider advising them to take a break from using the social network and to 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 also be advisable to file a police report. If you do take this step, please make sure you keep the evidence and make a diary that records what's been happening and how it's affected them.

Fosi sqFOSI's Reporting inappropriate content guide

Learn more about reporting inappropriate content on social site with FOSI's Reporting inappropriate content guide.

Go to expert resource >

Location sharing apps

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 you present, and that the young gorgeous person they've been chatting to could easily be someone with bad intentions.

Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 09.24.17Adele's vlog on disabling smartphone location

If you'd like a step-by-step guide on how to disable your child's location on their smartphone, our mum blogger Adele Jennings, gives a live demo in our latest vlog.

Go to Adele's vlog >

Sharing too much personal information online

I think my child may be sharing 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 they 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.

NSPCC_logo (1)NSPCC's "Share Aware"

To help your child understand how to be "Share Aware", the NSPCC have created this downloadable guide for parents giving practical tips on how to get children making smart choices about what they share online.

Download "Share Aware" >

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.

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

Download guide >

Social Network Guide

Find out which social networks your child is using and how to protect them

Childnet sq

Family Agreement

This template will help you set boundaries as a family, and help your child get the best out of their digital world

thinkuknowlogo sq

Videos about Inappropriate Selfies

What parents and carers need to learn about sexting and nude selfies

Advice and opinion

Here are a selection of articles from online safety experts to give you further tips on how to help your child stay safe on social media.

Bullying-phone-call-1-1Help! My child is the cyberbully

Lauren Seager-Smith

The National Co-ordinator of Anti-bullying Alliance gives advice on what to do if you find out your child is a cyberbully.


Computer-on-bedSocial media and radicalisation

Sadja Mughal, OBE

Expert from JAN Trust provides insight into use of social media to radicalise young people.