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Staying Safe online

Speak to your child about staying safe online.

Parents are encouraged to set rules and agree boundaries.

It’s useful to agree on some ground rules together. These will depend on the child’s age and what parents feel is right for them, but parents might want to consider:

  • the amount of time they can spend online
  • when they can go online
  • the websites they can visit or activities they can take part in
  • sharing images and videos
  • how to treat people online and not post anything they wouldn’t say face-to-face.
  • deploying parental controls (Remembering that filtering is only part of the solution)
  • For more information for parents about setting rule and agreeing boundaries, see the family agreement advice that has been published by Childnet.
  • Net-Aware

If a child plays online games:

  • check the age rating before they play
  • make sure you know who they’re playing with
  • talk to them about what information is OK to share with other players
  • negotiate the amount of time they spend playing online games.

Breck’s Story

Breck Bednar was a 14 year old boy, from Caterham, Surrey who loved technology and online gaming. He was groomed via the internet and murdered on February 17th 2014 by someone he met online.  The Breck Foundation is raising the awareness of playing safe whilst using the internet. The foundation has been set up in his memory to help other young people enjoy playing online but to be aware of some simple rules to stay safe.

  • Be aware Opening files, accepting emails, IM messages, pictures or texts from people you don’t know or trust can lead to problems – they may contain viruses or nasty messages
  • Report it: Tell your parent, or trusted adult if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or worried, or if you or someone you know is being bullied
  • Educate: Someone online might lie about who they are and information on the internet may not be true. Always check information with other websites, books or someone who knows. If you like chatting online it’s best to only chat to your real friends and family
  • Communicate: Meeting someone you have met online can be dangerous. Remember online friends are still strangers even if you have been talking to them for a long time. Never meet up with them alone and always speak to a parent or carer beforehand.
  • Keep Safe: Keep safe by being careful not to give your personal information when you are chatting or posting online. Personal information includes your email address, phone number, password, location

Do not ignore age restrictions

Some websites and games use age restrictions and checks to make sure that children don’t see unsuitable content.  Age restrictions are in place to protect children from accessing or being exposed to material that is inappropriate, disturbing or upsetting:  they should not be ignored.

Children must be at least 13 to register on most social networking websites. But there’s not a lot standing in the way of children joining at a younger age.[1]

Age limits are there to keep children safe so parents shouldn’t feel pressurised into letting younger children join these websites.

Sharing personal information

Privacy controls can limit who can see a child’s details, like their name, age and where they live. But when a child connects to someone as a ‘friend’, that person will have access to your child’s personal information.

Some ‘free’ games might ask children to fill out lots of details before they can play and then illegally rent or sell this data on to others for profit.

Children often sign over rights to their private messages and pictures unknowingly by agreeing to terms and conditions without reading them or comprehending their potential consequences.

Very often, the long established rights of children are not applied online.

Switch off or adjust settings using GPS or location tracking

Lots of apps and social networking sites use software to locate where the user is. Children and young people can also reveal their location by tagging photos, such as on Instagram, or checking in on Facebook or Foursquare.

This means that people can find out where your child lives, socialises, works or studies.

[1] The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into effect in May 2018. Initially this will raise the minimum age to 16 and means that if an organisation seeks consent to process young peoples personal data, then parental consent must be obtained. See

Children’s Commissioner launches online sexual harassment guide for parents

Children’s Commissioner Rachel de Souza has published a set of visual guides and summary posters for parents and carers regarding online sexual harassment.

The guidance is based on the voices of young people giving adults their tips on how to tackle this subject and were produced through a group of 16–21 year‑olds by asking them what they think parents should know, and what they should say to their children when talking about sexualised bullying and the pressures of growing up online. They were also asked to reflect on what parents and carers did and said that was helpful and what was not.

The parental guide and poster can be found here