Parental controls

Innocent searches online can lead to not so innocent results. But parental controls can help keep your child safe.

Parental controls are an important way to keep your child safe online.

Parental controls can be used to block upsetting or harmful content, control in-app purchases or manage how long your child spends online. And the good news is parental controls are really easy to set up.

Innocent searches sometimes reveal not so innocent results. So if you’re worried about what your child is searching for online, who they’re talking to or what they’re seeing, we can help.

It’s simple to get started. And, along with talking to your child regularly, using parental controls is one of the best ways to help keep children safe online. You’ll find lots more information below – or give us a call on 0808 800 5002 to chat to one of our expert NSPCC and O2 advisors.

What are parental controls?

Parental controls are software and tools which you can install on phones or tablets, games consoles or laptops – and even your home broadband.

You can also use them to help you block or filter the content your child sees when searching online. And family-friendly public WiFi can help when you’re out and about.

Parental controls are also available to help you to:

    • plan what time of day your child can go online and how long for
    • stop them from downloading apps they're too young for 
    • manage the content different members of the family can see.

So whatever your child is doing online, there’s a way that you can help keep them safe.

If you need help now...

1. you can phone our friendly experts on our free NSPCC & O2 helpline 0808 800 5002

2. read our advice on talking to your child about online safety

3. book an appointment with an O2 Guru in store who can set up relevant controls for you.

"When it comes to keeping your child safe online, parental control can be incredibly helpful and effective. Giving you the confidence to know that your child can experience the internet safely."
O2 Guru

How to set up parental controls on...

Mobile phone illustrationLots of mobiles and tablets come with settings that can help you manage what your child can and can’t see or do online. 

When using parental controls, make sure to check things like location settings and what information your child is sharing with others.

You can get more information about setting up controls on different devices from the UK Safer Internet Centre and mobile providers such as O2, Vodafone, Three and EE.

And don’t forget to talk to your child about what they’re doing online and how to be Share Aware.

Your internet provider may offer a free filter so you can control the content that you and your family see. You’ll need to manually set-up any device connected to your home broadband.

How you do this depends on your provider and you’ll need to access your home router or hub. It’s really easy and simple to do. You can get guidance from UK Safer Internet Centre and on how to do this or you can give our experts from the O2 & NSPCC helpline a call 0808 800 5002.

Don’t forget if your child uses their device away from home, then they’ll be able to connect to public WiFi which might not have the same settings.

If your child accesses the internet at home through 3G or 4G rather than using WiFi then they won’t be subject to the parental controls.

Most games consoles are internet-enabled. Which means your child can go online and chat with other players or make in-game purchases.

Like with mobiles and tablets, the controls on your games console help you to manage what your child can and can’t do.

Some devices allow you to:

    • set up different profiles for each family member
    • deactivate the internet
    •  turn off chat functions to stop your child from talking to strangers.

If you’re not sure where to start or need some advice, you can speak to one of our friendly experts from the O2 & NSPCC helpline. Call on 0808 800 5002.

Or read the advice on gaming devices from UK Safer Internet Centre.

You need to think about parental controls when watching films or TV and listening to music.

Smart TVs and services like Netflix, iTunes, BBC iPlayer and YouTube have settings that allow you to control who sees what.

Take a look at or UK Safety Internet Centre for more advice – or give our friendly experts at the O2 & NSPCC helpline a call on 0808 800 5002.

Globe illustrationSometimes innocent searches lead to not so innocent results. Make sure the content that your child sees online is appropriate for their age by using the controls available in search engines like Google and Bing.

Setting up filters like Google SafeSearch helps to protect your child from seeing inappropriate or adult content. Or you could use a child-friendly search engine like Swiggle and Safe Search UK.

Don't forget you can speak to one of our friendly experts from the O2 & NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5002They're available to answer any question you have about staying safe online and setting up parental controls. 

The controls you’ve set up on your child’s device and your home broadband won’t apply if they use 3G or 4G, public WiFi or log on to a friend’s connection instead.

Public WiFi is often available when you’re out and about. But it’s not always secure and can allow children to search the internet free from controls.

Some venues and businesses offer family-friendly WiFi. When you see the family-friendly WiFi symbol it means that when you connect to the WiFi there are filters in place to stop children from seeing harmful content.

Talk to your child and agree with them what they can and can’t do online. And if they’re visiting friends or family remember that they might not have the same controls set up.

If you’d like more advice give our experts from the O2 & NSPCC a call - 0808 800 5002.

Padlock illustrationIt can be hard to keep track of all the apps and social networks that are available and what they do. Some apps let young people send messages to each other or store personal information.

Others are for playing games or having fun. Whatever they do, remember you can talk to your child about their privacy settings.

And if you're not sure what privacy settings are or how to set them, then you can phone our friendly experts on our free NSPCC & O2 helpline 0808 800 5002.

Net Aware is a parent’s guide to the apps and networks that children are using and has more details about controls and privacy settings.