Keeping kids safe online

An introduction to online safety

Keeping kids safe online

This website will help you understand the online world so you can be confident when you talk to your children. We've got a whole range of top tips, guidance and advice. If you need more support, you can call our helpline on 0808 808 5002.

To kids, online friends are real friends. Online life is real life. There's no distinction.

We all understand the dangers children face in everyday life, and help them stay safe. But keeping children safe online can seem much harder.

That's why we've joined forces with NSPCC. We want every family in the UK to talk about their child's online world, just as they would their day at school, so they can understand it.

We want to bring families together so they can explore, create and play safely online.

Explore: what are your children doing online?

Children go online for lots of reasons. To connect with friends, make new ones, search for information, play games and share images or videos. But there are risks. 4% of 8-11 year olds and 15% of 12-15 year olds say they chat with people they don't know when playing games online (Ofcom, 2015). Most of these friendships are harmless and genuine, but it's important your children know how to protect themselves and their information.

Explore the apps, games and social networks your kids use. We've worked with NSPCC to create Net Aware, using reviews from parents and children to explain the 50 most popular social networks and apps.

To keep your family safe online, you need to work together. To help you, our advice pages follow four principles: Explore, Talk, Agree and Manage.

We have a site checker too, so you can tell if website is suitable for under-18s. The more you know about what your children are doing, the easier it is to help them to stay safe.

Talk: having the conversation

Ask your kids to show you their favourite things to do online, and explore them together. You'll be able to learn about their online world and how best to support them. You can talk to them about staying safe and let them know they can talk to you if something worries them.

We know that starting the conversation can be difficult, so we've created resources to help with that too.

Agree: setting the ground rules

Agree the websites, apps and games your children can use and when.

For very young children, you might want to go online as a family. If you have teenagers, they'll probably want more freedom. Remind them that online behaviour should reflect offline behaviour and encourage them to think before they share anything.

Don't forget to set a good example. It might not always feel like it, but your child does notice how you act and follows your lead. Discuss your family agreement, stick to it, and remind everyone why it's important.

Manage: taking controls

Get to grips with parental controls and safe modes. Most internet browsers, search engines, websites, devices and home wifi networks have parental controls in the settings.

Privacy settings on websites and apps restrict the information that can be shared. Make sure your child knows how to block and report people who upset or worry them. Unless they're using an app that needs location services to work, turn off the GPS settings on your child's devices. They could be giving away their location without realising it.

If your kids are on Minecraft, use safe servers. If they're on social media, take a look at their profile and privacy settings to control who can see your child's information, posts and pictures.

If they have an O2 mobile, you can turn on our Parental Control service by calling 61818. They'll only be able to visit websites suitable for under-12s, but it won't work if they're using wifi.

We've got a range of articles and guides to help parents. Take a look at our main page to find out more.

An introduction to child safety online

NPSCC protecting your children online

Other ways to get in touch

The children pictured are models. Photography by Tom Hull.