Online safety

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 or 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;
  • coming across inappropriate content (such as nude, violent, or distressing images or words); and
  • being asked to share personal information or images.

Keeping children and young people safe online

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 on the sites they use.

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 as it's a way of socialising with and testing their gaming skills against others. If your child is playing games online, you may like 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

The National Crime Agency's CEOP Education team have produced the following video guide to in-game chat in online gaming.

Ian Wright shares tips on gaming responsibly

Footballer and media personality, Ian Wright, gives advice on responsible gaming on behalf of Internet Matters.

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're 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.

Childline offers easy to follow instructions on how to have a nude image or video of an under-18 year old removed from the internet.

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:

The Marie Collins Foundation also offers guides for parents and professionals working with children to help protect children and young people from online harm.