The internet opens a world of exciting possibilities for children, with a wealth of information to discover and learn from, games for entertainment and a means of communicating with family and friends. Unfortunately the internet can also be a dangerous place for children, where they can face threats such as:
Harmful, illegal or inappropriate content
Disclosure of personal information
Arranging to meet with strangers or online-only friends
Fake news and unverified content
Fake profiles (catfishing)
Malicious malware (phishing emails, smishing texts or pop-ups)
Screen addiction (game and social media addiction)
Negative body image
Self-harm or suicide
Damaged online reputation
Keep Your Child Safe Online
It is not possible or even desirable to avoid all risk online. Children should not take risks unnecessarily, but just as you would not stop a child from learning to ride a bike because they might fall off, keeping your child from exploring the online world because it could possibly lead to harm is not doing them any favours. Instead teach your child how to be safe online and give them an age-appropriate amount of access to explore.
Below are some tips to help keep your child safe online:
Use filtering software to block unwanted internet content.
Adhere to recommended age ratings for games and apps. PEGI (Pan European Game Information) ratings are split into age restriction (3, 7, 12, 16 & 18 years) and content descriptors (fear, drugs, in-game purchases, violence, bad language, discrimination, gambling & sex).
Use social media privacy settings and familiarise yourself with the reporting processes.
Give your child strategies to deal with any online content or communication that they are not comfortable with (e.g. turn off the screen & tell an adult).
Encourage your child to use nicknames (where possible) instead of their full name online, to protect their personal information, and create strong passwords for every account.
Warn your child about talking to or friending people they have never met face-to-face.
Encourage your child to ‘think before you post’. Online actions can impact not only yourself but the lives of others. Also, content posted privately online can be publicly shared by others and may remain online forever, so leave a positive digital footprint.
Teach your child never to share revealing images or videos of themselves online.
Teach your child online-only friends are strangers and they could be lying about their age and gender.
Talk to your child about the risks of meeting up with online-only friends in real life.
Ensure your child knows that adults who want to talk about sex online are breaking the law.
Teach your child to check the validity of what they see and read online. They should check several different sources.
Talk to your child about online scams - if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.
Teach your child to call an adult for help if a pop-up appears on the screen.
If your child is being bullied online, save all the evidence and report the incident to the school (if applicable), internet service provider or the police (if the law has been broken).
Limit the amount of time your child spends online, in particular gaming and on social media.
Encourage your child to be online in a shared room at home without headphones or earphones. This will help you monitor their activity and discussions with online friends (e.g. in-game chat).
Encourage your child to talk to you if they are ever worried about anything that happens online.
Encourage your child to have a positive body image and high self-esteem. Explain that photos and posts people share online are often glamorised and idealised to portray a 'perfect' look and lifestyle.
If your child's identity has been fraudulently used (e.g. to create a fake social media account) make a report to the school (if applicable), the social media platform provider and the police.
Online Safety Links for Parents
Refer to the links below for more information on how to keep your child safe online. Internet safety links for children can be found on the Children's Online Safety page.
E-Safety Tips for Parents (Under 5 Year Olds) - Internet Matters
Safety on the internet matters. Our fun, interactive, stop motion animated video has useful advice and tips for parents of 0-5s so that you can help them to stay safe online.
E-Safety Tips for Parents (6-10 Year Olds) - Internet Matters
Safety on the internet matters. Our fun, interactive, stop motion animated video has useful advice and tips for parents of 6-10s so that you can help them to stay safe online.
Be Share Aware (All Children) - NSPCC
Teach your child to Be Share Aware. Sharing in real life is great but kids need our help to stay safe online.
Lucy and the Boy - Be Share Aware (Key Stage 2 Children) - NSPCC
We tell our children it's good to share - but online it's different. In fact sometimes it can be dangerous. That's why we're asking parents to be Share Aware.
I Saw Your Willy (Key Stage 2 Children) - NSPCC
Be Share Aware. We tell our children it's good to share - but online it's different. In fact sometimes it can be dangerous. That's why we're asking parents to be Share Aware - and keep children safe online.
Cyberbullying - Internet Matters
Bullying's changed. Your advice should too.
Finding a Healthy Screen Time Balance - Internet Matters
If you left your kids to their own devices...they may never leave their devices.
Are You Living an Insta Lie? - Ditch the Label
Social Media vs Reality.
Can I be your friend? Social Experiment - English National Opera
Ever thought how odd your online life is? Ever thought what could go wrong? This film explores the issues around ENO's production of Nico Muhly's Two Boys, a new opera that lifts the lid on the dangers of living our lives online.
Social Networking in Real Life Social Experiment
Do the things we do online make sense in real life?
If the Internet was a Person Prank
Your browsing history, likes, searches, it's all saved. So what if people acted like the internet?
Silent Addiction - TVNZ Sunday & Game Quitters
This video game addiction documentary brings attention to our global gaming addiction problem.
Escaping Video Game Addiction - Cam Adair at TEDx
Today, millions of people around the world from all ages struggle with video game addiction. This issue affects all of life including school grades, job retention, career aspirations and even marriages yet too often the conversation focuses on whether we should play games instead of helping those who want to stop but cannot.
"Where is Klaus?" - Klicksafe
The Klicksafe video presents four areas of internet usage that are particularly problematic for children.