Online safety is vitally important for children. A good place to start is for parents and carers to have a conversation with children. On this page, you will find some information about online safety, links to useful websites as well as advice for speaking with your child about online safety.
Ways to begin conversations to keep your child safe online.
- Explore sites and apps together
- Talk about what might be OK for children of different ages. Ask your child what sites or apps they like. Write a list, and look at them together.
- Be positive about what you see, but also be open about concerns you have: “I think this site’s really good” or “I’m a little worried about things I’ve seen here”.
- Talk to your child about what you think is appropriate – but also involve them in the conversation. Ask what they think is OK for children of different ages – they’ll feel involved in the decision-making.
- Be aware that your child might talk about friends who use apps or visit sites that you’ve decided aren’t suitable. Be ready to discuss your reasons, but recognise that they may not agree with you. Listen carefully for the reasons why.
- Go through a final list of sites you both agree are OK, and work out when you’ll next discuss it.
- Talk about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable
- Ask about things they, or their friends, have seen that made them feel uncomfortable:
- Be specific. What exactly made them feel uncomfortable and why? Is it people or animals being hurt? Nasty comments about others?
- Link these to things in the real world, and explain that you’re always here to protect and help them online and off.
- Reassure your child that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Show them how to report or block on the sites and apps they use. Use Net Aware to find out how.
- Tell them you’ll help them to report anything upsetting they’ve seen, or to deal with online bullying.
- You may also want to set up your own Internet Family Agreement
What parents need to know to help keep children safe wherever and whenever they go online.
Talk about how they can stay safe on social networks.
Ask your child if they know:
- where reporting functions are
- how to block someone
- how to keep information private.
- Show them how to do these things. Use Net Aware to help you
Talk about online privacy, and being Share Aware. Explain that online behaviour – including sharing personal information – should mirror behaviour in person.
Explain that talking to strangers isn’t always ‘bad’, but they should always be careful about what they share and sometimes people aren’t who they say they are.
- It’s good to share – but sometimes sharing online can be dangerous. Be Share Aware and keep children safe online.
- Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them.
- Explain that you understand the internet is a great place to be and that you’re just looking out for them. Tell them they should speak up and not keep secrets if something is worrying them.
- Reassure them that you’re interested in all aspects of their life. Say that you’d like to talk about stuff they’ve seen online, sites and apps they visit, and that you’ll share the things you’ve seen too. Recognise that they’ll be using the internet to research homework, for example.
- Be Share Aware: talk about what’s OK, and not OK, to share online.
- Talk to your child about what ‘personal information’ is – such as email address, full name, phone number, address and school name – and why it’s important.
- Explain simple ways to protect privacy. For example, avoiding usernames like birth dates or locations that give away too much information.
- Discuss images and photos, and what might be appropriate. Help your child understand how photographs can give people a sense of your personality, and that sharing the wrong kind of image can give the wrong impression.
- Explain that it isn’t easy to identify someone online. People aren’t always who they say they are, so don’t share personal information. If it’s someone who genuinely knows your child, they shouldn’t need to ask for personal information online.
- Tell your child that if they’re in any doubt they should talk to you first.
- What to do if you’re worried about your child online: There may be times when you’re worried about your child’s online safety. If you’re unsure what to do, help is at hand. The NSPCC have put together some of the things that might be worrying you, and what you can do to help your child.
Net Aware is the NSPCC’s no-nonsense guide to the social networks, sites and apps children use: Net Aware
Childnet International is a non-profit organisation working with others to help make the internet a great and safe place for children and has lots of resources for families:
You may also want to set up your own Internet Family Agreement.
Think U Know:
Key Stage 1 – Hector's World
Watch these videos of Hector and his friends learning to use the computer safely.
General advice for Key Stage 1 about safe use of the internet.
Key Stage 2 – Explore the cyber cafe and learn how to stay safe when you’re on the computer and when using a phone