From cyberbullying to sharing nudes: what parents want to know

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On average the NSPCC Helpline receives 200 calls every day.

Below we answer some of the most common questions that parents ask us about children being online.

If you have concerns about anything that is discussed below, you can contact the Helpline for free support and advice on 0808 800 5000 or online.

My child has shared a nude online. What can I do?

If your child has shared a nude image or video of themselves online, it can be difficult to know what to do. You might feel panic, anger, or worry, but there is support for you and your child in this situation.

There are 3 key steps that can help:

When you first find out, try to stay calm and reassure your child that they have done the right thing by telling you. Remember, you're there to support them, so try to avoid using language that blames or makes judgement.

There are many reasons why a child may share a nude image or video of themselves; it may have been consensual, or they may have been coerced into sharing the image.

Talk to your child to find out who they have sent it to and if they think it may have been shared more widely. This will help you know how to help them.

If the image or video has been shared with others, you can help your child to report the image to the platform it has been shared on, or to use Report Remove, where they have the option of receiving emotional support from Childline.

As a parent you can contact the NSPCC Helpline for support. If you suspect the image or video involves other pupils from your child’s school, you should speak to the school directly.

How can I talk to my child about online grooming?

This can seem like a really difficult conversation, but here are 3 key steps to make it easier for you and your child. 

Before you start the conversation, make sure you have the facts, there's no wrong age to have these discussions, but language is important. You know your child best and can start when you feel your child is ready to talk about it.

Online grooming is where a person tries to gain a young person’s trust which could be for the purposes of sexual exploitation. This can happen quickly or can take place over a period of time and can take place in any online area. Children might be made to feel ashamed or frightened, to prevent them from telling anybody.

For more information, read our page on keeping children safe from online sexual abuse.

It is important to talk to your child regularly about all of their online experiences.

The goal of these conversations is to build trust with your child so allow them to share their experiences openly, staying calm even if what they say surprises you. This will help your child feel comfortable coming to you if something is worrying them and allow you to discuss difficult topics more easily.

Look for good opportunities to talk together. It could be when out for a walk, or when travelling in the car, or even over text if that feels more comfortable.

There is lots of information and support for you and your child.

Your child can visit Childline's info and advice page to help them understand and get advice on online grooming

If you are concerned about someone your child is talking to online, you can report this to Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP).

I’m concerned about conversations my child is having online. What can I do?

Sometimes children go online looking for support to help them feel like they are not alone.

If children are suffering with worrying feelings about self-harm, suicide or eating disorders, they may talk to others about this online. While young people may find this helpful, it can lead to them viewing content that might cause harm, such as pro-self-harm, suicide or eating disorder content.

If you are concerned your child is having conversations like this online, here are 3 key steps you can take:

Make sure you talk to your child about why they are having these conversations. Are they simply curious or struggling with their own feelings? It’s important to try and find out what has led to this behaviour and allow your child to speak openly about this.

Visit our information page for more advice on discussing online safety with your child. 

If your child has seen something worrying online, such as pro-suicide content, help them to make a report to the platform they were using or the Report Harmful Content website

Childline and Young Minds can also offer support to your child.

Parental controls and filters can help stop your child being exposed to harmful content online.

With younger children, set up parental controls on the devices they use.

With older children, help them to set filters that will screen content for certain words or types of content.


For more advice, visit our information page on depression, anxiety and mental health in children.

My child is being bullied online. How can I help them?

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place online.

Unlike bullying offline, online bullying can follow the child wherever they go, via social networks, gaming and mobile phones.

Finding out your child is being bullied can make you feel many different emotions. If your child is being bullied online, here are 2 key steps to help support them:

Find a time that is right for your child to talk about what's happening to them.

Make sure you stay calm, listen carefully and reassure them that you are going to help.

Avoid restricting their online access or taking away devices, as this can leave them feeling more isolated and like they are being punished. Instead, come up with a plan together for ways they can feel safer online, such as using security settings and boundaries around what apps are used when.

Report the bullying by using in-app reporting tools where available and speak to your child’s school if they are being bullied by others from school.

Make sure you keep any evidence of the bullying, such as screenshots.

Remember that Childline is always there to support children, on 0800 1111 or via Childline online 

Access support for yourself if needed. Find a trusted friend or family member in which you can talk about your feelings and can support you as it can feel like a lot to deal with. You can also access support through the NSPCC Helpline.

Need more advice?

Parents and carers should have all the information they need to help keep kids safe online, but sometimes this can be hard to find. That's why we've collected everything you need to know in our online safety hub.

The information is organised by topic to make everything easy to find. We have pages for social media, online gaming and parental controls that explain the risks, and the steps you can take, to help keep your kids safe online. 

We also cover what parents need to know about topics such as sharing nudes, livestreaming, harmful content and reporting online safety issues

Worried about a child?

Contact our Helpline by calling 0808 800 5000 or emailing [email protected].

Children can contact Childline any time to get support themselves.

Get support

Photography by Harry George Hall. The NSPCC practitioner is Kate Cunningham