Inappropriate content

Protecting your children from inappropriate content

Inappropriate content

The internet is a big place. Kids can use it to learn, be creative and make friends. But there's a lot on the internet that they shouldn't see. When a child searches online, they may not always find the innocent results they were after.

There are things you can do to help. Parental controls are an easy way to keep your kids safe. They’re simple to set up and can be used to manage how long your child spends online, stop them from accessing inappropriate content and control in-app purchases.

Our advice below can help you get started. Or you can give us a call on 0808 800 5002 and chat to one of our expert advisors, or book an appointment in store.

Turn on Parental Controls – Android:

Turn on Parental Controls - iOS:

Talk: having the conversation

Most sites, especially social-networks, have will have an age rating or minimum age to sign up, often this is 13. Age limits are there to keep children safe. So you shouldn't feel pressured into letting your child sign up or use websites that you feel they're too young for, even if there's peer group pressure to play games and use websites. Talk to your children about the purpose of age limits and any concerns you might have, and agree together the websites, apps and games they can use.

Reassure your child they can always confide in you. They might be worried you'll take away their internet access if they admit coming across something inappropriate. Let them know they can always talk to you, or another adult. Perhaps an aunt, uncle or older cousin. Explain you only ever want to keep them safe.

Explore: understanding inappropriate content

It can be difficult to protect your children from inappropriate things online. The internet wasn't created just for children, so they may be exposed to adult content.

In 2015, 11% of 8-11 year olds and 16% of 12-15 year olds said they had seen something online that was worrying, nasty or offensive (Ofcom 2015).

It might be violence, racial hatred, dangerous opinions, gambling or porn. Children may come across this content by mistake, or they may look for it because they're curious.

Check out the websites, social networks and games your child uses. Visit the Net Aware website for advice.

Agree: setting the ground rules

Families need to strike the right balance between keeping an eye on children and giving them the independence and freedom to explore. Simply sheltering them from the online world might not help them in the long run. Agree some ground rules on which websites and apps your kids can use.

You could try keeping computers and gadgets in the family space, so you can keep an eye on what's going on. And try to find some fun educational sites you can all use together as a family, too.

Manage: taking control

Check out our Guru tutorial videos below for a guide on how to set up parental controls on Android and iOS.

Or visit our partner, the NSPCC, for help with setting up parental controls, to filter or restrict content on your home wifi, phones, tablets and games consoles. You can also set filters on search engines or change website privacy settings. Make sure your child knows how to use these tools to report abuse. Older children may find ways to get past controls, so it's important to remind them they're there to keep them safe.

If your child has an O2 mobile, you can turn on parental controls. It stops your child's phone being able to access websites unsuitable for under 12s. To turn it on, call 61818 from your child's mobile, or you can do it online. You can also check the age restriction of your child's phone online, or by calling the O2 age verification line on 61018.

At O2, we automatically restrict websites that have material not suitable for under 18s. To get to those websites over our network, you'll have to prove you're old enough with a credit card. But these restrictions won't work if they're using unrestricted home wifi.

If your child uses O2 Wifi, certain websites will be blocked. They won't be able to see illegal, extreme, harmful or adult material. But remember, that might not be the case with other public wifi.

For more help and advice, call our helpline on 0808 808 5002 or make an appointment with an O2 Guru.

Other ways to get in touch

The children pictured are models. Photography by Tom Hull.