Keeping children and young people safe online

Using the internet has many benefits for children and young people. It is a great way for them to learn, keep in touch with friends and have fun by playing games or sharing images. However, there are risks when using the internet to be aware of, which include:

  • Online grooming, exploitation or bullying by others online.
  • Inappropriate content (such as nude, violent, or distressing images or words).
  • Being asked to share personal information or images.

This page contains information on how to keep your children safe online, guidance for sharing images, online gaming and how to report any concerns.

What you can do

If your child is starting to or already uses the internet, you may like to do the following.

  • Talk to them about the possible risks of using the internet.
  • Go online with them.
  • Set rules about how your child uses the internet (such as how long and what sites they can go on).
  • Set parental controls on your devices and internet (the Internet Matters Parental Controls page can help you with this).
  • Check the content your child is viewing is appropriate for their age.
  • If your child talks to someone online, make sure you know who they are.
  • Check your child is aware of the risk of sharing images online and how to use reporting tools.

The brief clips below produced by the National Crime Agency's CEOP Education team give tips on sharing images and what you can do, as a parent or carer, to help your child stay safe online.

The parents' and carers' guide to sharing images (primary school age)

The parents' and carers' guide to sharing images (secondary school age)

Online Gaming

Children and Young People love online gaming because they can socialise with and test their gaming skills against others. If your child is playing games online, you might want to think about the questions below.

  • Is the game age appropriate? You should be aware of the PEGI ratings, which tell you the age a game is appropriate for.
  • Can you chat to other people during the games? Many games will have a way of chatting to other players during a game.

The clips below offer helpful tips about what the PEGI ratings mean and what to think about, if your child is playing a game where they can speak to others.

Guide to PEGI ratings

The UK Safer Internet Centre have produced the video below, to help parents and carers understand PEGI ratings for games.

In-game chat: a guide for parents and carers

Online games like Fortnite, Minecraft and Roblox are really popular amongst children and are becoming an important part of their social lives.

While playing games online is often great fun and a good way to chat, there is a chance that your children will play with people they don't know who may use in-game chat inappropriately to expose them to harm or risk.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) guide for parents and carers will help you understand why your children chat online, what risks there are and what measures you can take to protect them.

How to report concerns about content or of children coming to harm online

If you are concerned a child has been groomed or harmed online you should contact the police on 999 immediately. An example of this may be if you believe a child is travelling to meet someone they have met online.

Children can also report any concerns to CEOP (the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre). Some children may prefer to do this if they are anxious about talking face to face with a parent or teacher.

Online bullying and abuse can also be reported to the police by calling 101 or visiting Surrey Police's online reporting platform.

Remove a nude image shared online

If you are under 18 and a nude image or video of you has been shared online, you can ask for it to be removed from the internet.

Report Remove help young people under 18 to confidentially report sexual images and videos of themselves and remove them from the internet. Childline counsellors are available to help you through this process.

Further advice

The sites below are useful places to get further advice on how to ensure children and young people get the most out of the internet while staying safe:

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