Inappropriate or explicit content

Find out what inappropriate content is and how to support your child if they've seen something online that's upset them.

What is inappropriate or explicit content?

As children start to explore the internet, they may come across content that isn't suitable for their age, or that may upset them or worry them. Inappropriate content can include:

    • terror attacks, beheadings and bombings
    • cruelty to humans and animals
    • self-harm sites 
    • pro-anorexia and eating disorder content
    • pro-suicide content
    • sexual abuse and rape
    • violence and distressing content
    • hate sites
    • online porn.

 

Worried about a child?

If you're worried about something a child or young person may have experienced online, you can contact the NSPCC helpline for free support and advice. Call us on 0808 800 5000 or contact us online.

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support

Taking, sharing and receiving explicit images

If you're worried your child may have been taking, sharing or receiving inappropriate or explicit images, it can help to: 

    • talk to them about what they're sharing or have seen, and if they know who else has seen the pictures
    • remind them that people online may not be who they say they are 
    • explain that they should always think carefully about what they share online, as once it's been sent, they lose control of it 
    • suggest they download the Zipit app on Childline to help them deal with requests for inappropiate photos 
    • let them know they can always come to you if they see anything that worries or upsets them online.

"It would be very nice if, online, they wouldn’t say ‘Be careful who you’re talking to, they might not be who you think they are’, and instead they’re saying ‘If anything at all makes you even slightly uncomfortable, then you can talk to someone."
Jess, 17

If your child has seen inappropriate content

Sometimes, innocent searches can lead to not so innocent results.  And sometimes, children may look for things because they're curious.

It’s important to know how to reassure young people and help them know what to do and where to go for support if they see inappropriate content online.

If your child has seen inappropriate content online, you can:

    • talk with them about what they've seen – let them know what is, and isn’t, appropriate for their age.
    • reassure them they can come to you, another trusted adult or Childline if they're worried about something.
    • get advice on setting up parental controls.
    • report any inappropriate, illegal, explicit, identifying or distressing content to CEOP through their website.
    • block any distressing, inappropriate or upsetting content on social media websites. You can learn how to do this through Net Aware.

Children may experience lots of different emotions when they see inappropriate, upsetting or distressing content online. It’s important to talk to your child about what they’re doing online and let them know to come to you if they see anything that upsets them.

Children who see inappropriate content might feel:

    • confusion or uncertainty
    • shame or guilt
    • shock or disgust
    • sadness
    • excitement or happiness.