How to keep your children safe online

NSPCC Local Campaigns Manager Emma Motherwell takes a look at the apps and sites children are using and how you can help keep them safe.


The summer holidays are a wonderful opportunity to enjoy being out and about but when even the most active adventurers get tired out and need some time away from the sunshine.

And as we start handling numerous requests to play on tablets, consoles and smart phones, how can we ensure our children are staying safe online?

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The internet is a fantastic place for children and young people to socialise, explore their interests, and learn, but every parent should be aware of the risks.

We know children are becoming more concerned about online safety from the increasing number of calls to Childline, and we have seen a growing number of cases where children and young people have been targeted by adults through popular apps and social media platforms.

Last year, 2016/17, Childline volunteers delivered more than 12,000 counselling sessions about online safety and abuse and there was a 20 per cent rise in the number of page views to advice about sexting.

While online abuse may be a top concern for parents, the internet can also present other risks such as cyberbullying, feeling unhappy about body image and being exposed to adult or inappropriate content when gaming.

So, it is incredibly important that parents talk to their children about being safe online and spotting the signs of inappropriate behaviour or content.

Parents and children should:

Explore sites and apps together

Talk about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable

Talk about what is, and is not, ok to share online

Reassure them that you won’t overreact – you’re just looking out for them

To help parents explore the sites, apps and games their child uses the NSPCC and O2 have created Net Aware, which looks at the safety of the sites children use most, as well as giving guidance on age suitability.

Here, parents and young people can find out how to set privacy settings and how to block or report online.

The partnership also encourages parents to be Share Aware and to talk to their children about what is and is not suitable to share online.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be looking at various apps, games, social media and livestreaming sites that young people are using and providing practical advice about working together to help children use them safely.

Call our Online Safety Helpline for advice on all things online safety, including setting up parental controls, on 0808 800 5002. You can also book an appointment with an NSPCC-trained O2 Guru in store for support, whether you’re an O2 customer or not.

Net Aware is available as an app or at