Online abuse Signs, indicators and effects
Many of the signs that a child is being abused are the same no matter how the abuse happens.
A child may be experiencing abuse online if they:
- spend lots, much more or much less time online, texting, gaming or using social media
- are withdrawn, upset or outraged after using the internet or texting
- are secretive about who they’re talking to and what they’re doing online or on their mobile phone
- have lots of new phone numbers, texts or e-mail addresses on their mobile phone, laptop or tablet.
Things you may notice
If you're worried that a child is being abused, watch out for any unusual behaviour.
- suddenly behaves differently
- problems sleeping
- eating disorders
- wets the bed
- soils clothes
- takes risks
- misses school
- changes in eating habits
- obsessive behaviour
- thoughts about suicide
Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of child abuse.
The effects of online abuse on children
It doesn’t matter whether abuse happens online or offline, a child can experience harm and long-lasting damage as a result of abuse.
Cyberbullying can make children and young people feel more frightened and helpless than bullying because they feel like they can’t escape. It can also have a similar impact as bullying causing school failure, depression, anxiety and other mental health problems (Munro, 2011).
We don't yet know much about effects of grooming or sexual abuse experienced online. But we do know that sexual abuse can have devastating effects which can last into adulthood.
Work or volunteer with children and families?
Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.
Signs, symptoms and effects of abuse
Bullying and cyberbullying
Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of bullying and cyberbullying
Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of grooming
Child sexual exploitation
Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of child sexual exploitation
Find out more about the signs, symptoms and effects of child sexual abuse