Staying safe online

Child with tablet computer eating chocolate bar

Tablets, mobile ‘phones, TVs, laptops and computer games consoles are everywhere and most of us couldn’t do without them! 

Our children are growing up with technology that is moving on super-fast and it can be difficult to keep up with the changes, the language that children use, the huge number of games and apps which are available and the potential risks. 

Talking regularly with your child is the best thing we can do to keep them safe online, making it part of daily conversation, like you would about their day at school, will help your child feel relaxed. It also means when they do have any worries, they’re more likely to come and speak to you.

For younger children

  • Enjoy using technology together - It's important to spend time with them whilst they are watching things online or playing games. Try to get to know how a game or device works by exploring it as a family and finding where the main settings and safety features are.
  • Choose games and apps that are age appropriate for your child.
  • Use parental controls - Make use of controls and filters which can be used on your home internet, devices, phone networks and online services such as Netflix and YouTube. The NSPCC has a step-by-step guide on how to check these.
  • Parental controls can never be 100% safe -talk to your child, let them know that they can talk to you if they see something they think is wrong.

It’s never too early to talk to your child about what they do online and who to tell if they come across anything online that makes them feel worried, scared or sad.

CEOP have made 3 cartoons that are great for parents to support them in explaining to their children what to look out for online and who they should tell. You can watch the videos here.

For older children

Going online is a huge part of most young people’s lives so it’s important to talk to them about online safety. They regularly use different websites and apps from their parents, and it can be hard to keep up in this ever-changing digital world.

But the things that help keep children safe online are often similar to the things that keep them safe offline.

  • Talk about what they think is normal online and what behaviour to expect from others and from themselves.
  • Encourage them to think about and question what they see online. Talk to them about where they go to get information they trust, talk about fake news, fake followers and scams. Help them develop a healthy suspicion of whether people are who they say they are.  See the other information pages in this section about keeping children safe from radicalisation.
  • Share your knowledge and experience of relationships. For example, sometimes people seem nice at first and then they turn out to be mean. Let them know that you know this, they can talk to you about it. And that you won’t panic or punish them if they do. See the other pages in this section about child exploitation.

Think about

Setting up an agreement about what your expectations are for when your children/young people when go on-line. The NSPCC have this handy leaflet with lots of ideas to get you started.

Online help

The Parents’ and Carers’ Guide to the Internet’, has been created by CEOP to provide a light-hearted and realistic look at what it takes to be a better online parent. The site also has age specific advice for parents and carers of primary and secondary school age children. Read more on their website thinkuknow

Reporting concerns

If you have seen something online that concerns you, please make a report to Child Exploitation and Online Protection now.

If you have a concern about a child, you can speak to one of our consultant social workers by:

The Children’s Portal is our online system that allows members of the public to share any concerns they have about a child by completing a secure form. You do not need to leave your details.

or you can contact the police by calling:

  • Police Non-Emergency – 101
  • Police Emergency – 999
Last updated: