Online Safety

“The internet is becoming the town square of the global village of tomorrow.”

Bill Gates


We all know we need to stay safe while using the internet, but we may not know how to do that. In the past, internet safety was mainly about protecting your computer from viruses. But today, the internet's vast reach, constantly changing technologies such a smart phones, tablets, watches etc and growing social nature have made users more vulnerable to bullying, inappropriate content, identity theft, privacy violations, and even harassment.

Below you will find information to help to keep yourself and your child safe on the internet.

Social Media

Social media, like all forms of public communication, comes with some risks.  Not all of these risks turn into actual problems, and if children never face any risks, they never become resilient or learn how to deal with them.  By helping your child understand what the risks are, you can play a big part in preventing risks turning into problems.

Click on the links below for further help and advice with each of these popular social media sites ensuring you are aware of the minimum age requirements for each one.

Practical Tips

Keep talking and stay involved

In a digital age, children can’t be completely protected, even by the best privacy controls. So, it’s important to keep talking to your child about the implications of internet use, especially social media. Getting a sense of what they think is a useful place to start; you may be surprised by how much thought they may have given to the issues.

  • Encourage your child to think carefully about the way they, and others behave online, and how they might deal with difficult situations.
  • People may not always be who they say they are online: how can this create problems?
  • Explain why it could be unsafe to meet anyone in the real world that you’ve only ever met online?
  • Even if you think your messages are private, remember that words and images can always be captured and broadcast.
  • People present themselves differently online – do they really look like that? Are they always having that good a time?
  • Be aware that screens, and especially being anonymous, can lead people to say things they wouldn’t say to someone’s face.
  • What does being a good friend and a likeable person online look like?
  • There can be pressure to be part of a particular group online or to be seen to be following a certain set of ideas.
  • How can you take a step back and make your own decisions?

Don’t be put off by believing your child knows more than you

  • Ask them to show you which social media apps they use and what they like about them. Talk about how they use them and what makes them so engaging.
  • Explain how you can use privacy settings to make sure only approved friends can see posts & images.
  • Check if any of their apps have ‘geo-location’ enabled, sharing their location unintentionally.
  • Show them how to report offensive comments or block people who upset them.
  • Check ‘tagging’ settings so that when others are posting or sharing photos online, your child’s identity is not revealed. Also, get people’s consent before sharing photos.
  • Encourage your child to come and talk to you if they see anything that upsets them.

Sharing Images

Be careful which images and content you choose to share online.

  • Once an image has been shared, you can never be sure who has seen it, saved it or shared it. Personal or embarrassing pictures in the wrong hands can lead to bullying.
  • Knowing that others have seen embarrassing images can cause stress and anxiety, and affect a child’s confidence and self-esteem.

Additional Advice