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Talking to your child about online safety

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For kids today, there’s no real difference between online life and offline life. It all flows into one. That’s why it’s so important to teach them how to stay safe online. And just like any other part of your child’s development, talking to them is your greatest tool.

The information on this page is aimed at parents of children aged around 8 – 12. You can find information about online safety for younger children and teens here.

Talking openly and regularly will not only help your child understand the risks of the internet, it will also make them feel more comfortable coming to you if they’re worried about something. Try to make chatting about what they’re doing online a part of daily conversation. Just like you would ask your child about their day in school, you can ask them what they’re up to online, and take it from there.

In this video, Bethan Kelly from Barnardo's discusses how you can help keep your child safe online.

Tips for talking to your child about online safety

Talking to younger children about online safety

Children are accessing technology and the internet at a younger age than ever before. It’s never too early to talk to your child about what they do online and who to tell if they come across anything online that makes them feel worried, scared or sad. But where do you start? Our page on online safety for younger children (age around 4 – 7) has lots of information and advice to help.

You can find more advice about keeping very young children safer online on the CEOP website.

Talking to your child about online safety if they have additional support needs

Discussing online safety and all the issues that come along with it may seem even more daunting if your child has additional support needs. But it’s still very important to do so, and there are lots of resources out there to help. Childnet have created a great resource to help parents of children with additional support needs talk to them about online safety, set boundaries and deal with any problems that may arise. The resource covers healthy relationships, digital wellbeing, online pornography and nudes.

Talking to teens about online safety

You may feel that your teenager knows more about the internet than you do, but that doesn’t mean they always know how to stay safe. Our page on online safety for teens has tips for helping teens be safer online. Our section on sex and relationships also has lots of information on sexual behaviour online.

More help and support

  • For more tips about starting a conversation, the NSPCC has great advice.
  • You could also look at YoungScot’s advice with your child to help start the conversation.
  • The Ask the Awkward resource from CEOP Education helps you to prepare for regular conversations with your child or teen about online relationships and related topics.
  • If you’d like more support setting up parental controls, the Internet Matters website will take you step by step through the process of setting up parental controls and privacy settings across all of the networks, gadgets, apps, and sites that your child uses, to help keep them safer online.
  • The Safety Net website has useful guides for parents on a range of topics, including gaming, social media, influencers and sharing pictures.
  • This document from the Children’s Commissioner in England also has lots of helpful information, including tips from young people on what they think parents should know about online safety.
  • The Education Scotland website has information on how children learn about and use digital resources and how you can help protect your child when they’re online.

Last updated: 30 Jan, 2024