Keeping your child safe online
Using the internet, mobile phones and games consoles are now an every-day part of young people's lives. However, there are risks for children and parents need to know how to protect their children effectively.
Increasingly there are more opportunities for children to get online – at home, at school and through their mobile phones and games consoles.
The internet can be of great benefit to your child. It can help them with their homework and it can help them to make new friends.
The internet can also pose risks to your child. It is important to be aware of the dangers and to know how to keep your child safe online.
Understanding the internet
You may feel your child knows more about the internet than you do and find the idea of using it yourself a bit daunting. To keep your child safe it's important that you have an understanding of the internet, how your child uses it and the terminology used online.
Your child may be able to show you what they do and how it works or your local library, college or community centre may run classes on computers and the internet.
What are the risks to children?
Accessing the internet and using mobile phones can put children at risk of:
- seeing disturbing information or images
- being the victim of online bullying (also known as cyberbullying)
- being contacted and manipulated by an adult for sexual purposes (also known as grooming)
- sharing personal and identifying information with strangers
- sending or receiving sexually explicit films, images or messages of themselves or others (this is known as sexting when sent by mobile phone).
Keeping your child safe
To help keep your child safe online:
- talk to your child about the dangers posed by the internet
- tell them what they should do if they become worried or concerned
- explain that anything shared online or by mobile phone could end up being seen by anyone
- understand what your child does online and know which websites they visit
- put the computer where the whole family can see it, not out of sight in a bedroom
- use filtering software to block inappropriate sites
- encourage your child to use websites such as ChildLine where they can find advice and guidance on safe (but fun) use of the internet.
Where to find more advice
NSPCC: Advice and support for adults concerned about a child.
CEOP: Organisation that works to stop child abuse on the internet.
Know-IT-All: Information on benefits, risks and safety on the internet.
DirectGov: Guide for parents on interney safety.
Which?: Information and advice on child internet safety.
Click Clever, Click Safe: Code developed by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.
Rob became very concerned when he looked at the web history on his computer. He realised that his ten year old son had been exploring unsavoury websites with his friends.
Rob was anxious about what his son had been doing and decided to ring the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000 for help.
He was given advice on how to speak to his son about the dangers of the internet and how to ensure his son's friendships were healthy. The counsellor also directed him to sources of information about setting up parental controls on the computer.
Free guides for parents
Download our free leaflets containing advice and guidance for parents on a range of child safety issues.
Are you a child?
Do you need to talk? Call ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit us online.
Worried about a child?
Don’t wait until you’re certain. Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.