We tell our children to share but online it's different. In fact, sometimes sharing online can be dangerous. That's why we've joined forces with O2 to ask parents to be Share Aware and keep children safe online.
Talking to your child is the best way to help keep them safe. But with things changing all the time, it can be hard to keep up to date. You can always call our online safety helpline on 0808 8005002 to get advice on anything from the latest social networks to parental controls.
Or find out what other parents think about the most popular social apps and games, what's the right age and details on privacy and safety settings with our Net Aware tool.
Our straightforward, no-nonsense advice will untangle the web, and show you how you can be just as great a parent online, as you are the rest of the time. The internet is a great place for children to be. Being Share Aware makes it safer.
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Make sure you're Share Aware
How safe are the sites, apps and games your child uses?
Run in partnership with O2, Net Aware offers parents useful information about each social network, including the age guidance for users.
Get online safety advice
What parents need to know to help keep your child safe wherever and whenever they go online.
Social networks, apps and games: what's popular?
Children and young people use social networks to:
- share photos and images
- message each other (sometimes in a group)
- chat with people via video
- make voice calls
- share content
- meet new people and chat to strangers
- play games
What's popular changes all the time.
Find out what other parents think, how to use privacy settings and suggested ages for over 50 social networks that young people are using – visit Net Aware.
Almost a quarter of 11 and 12 year-olds with a social networking profile experienced something that upset them in the last year.
We asked children and young people why they thought some were risky.
They told us they worried about:
- seeing inappropriate content
- being contacted by strangers
- fake users
- lack of control of what you see
What's the right age?
Many social networks have a minimum age of 13 (because of laws governing their use in the USA, where the majority are based).
Children become more interested in social networks when they start secondary school.
At the age of 11, they're becoming more independent and want to be part of the social network of their new school – whether online or in person.
50% of all 11 and 12 year-olds in the UK use a social networking site, according to our research. This is because it's easy for children to access sites intended for older users.
Social networking accounts can also be used to access a range of other sites – just think of all the websites that invite you to 'Sign in using Facebook or Twitter'.
Some parents may think it's OK for their 11-year-old to use a site aimed at over 13s, but it's worth bearing in mind that it's not just that site's content you need to think about.
You need to consider all the other sites they can now access as a result of having a social networking profile.
Find out what our panel thought was the right age for each network on Net Aware – and cast your vote.
12-15 year olds who go online have a social network profile
8-11 year olds who go online have a social network profile
5-7 year olds who go online have a social network profile
What to look out for
Sites and apps have safety features to help children keep in control – with or without your help.
These include things like privacy settings, or ways to block other users or content that they find upsetting. There are also ways to report anything upsetting to the people who run the sites.
Look out for these features, and teach your child to look for them too. It will help them to develop their own digital judgment skills and know how to get help if they need it.
You can find out more about the privacy and safety features for different networks on Net Aware.
Download our NetAware app
NetAware is our simple guide for parents to the most popular social networks, apps and games that children use.
You can easily find age ratings, parent and child reviews and how likely it is that a child could find inappropriate content.
Download the app today, so you'll always have help keeping children safe online wherever you go.
You might also be interested in
Share Aware – resources for schools and teachers
Download Share Aware guide
If you're not sure where to start, download our guide for top tips on how to be share aware and talk to your child about staying safe online.
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NSPCC and O2 - keeping children safe online
Talk about staying safe online
Our talking tips will help you start the conversation with your child about staying safe online.