Talking to your child about staying safe online

You might find it helpful to start with a family discussion to set boundaries and agree what’s appropriate. Or you might need a more specific conversation about an app or website your child wants to use or something you’re worried about.

Talk about what might be OK for children of different ages. Ask your child what sites or apps they like. Write a list, and look at them together.

Be positive about what you see, but also be open about concerns you have: “I think this site’s really good” or “I’m a little worried about things I’ve seen here”.

Talk to your child about what you think is appropriate – but also involve them in the conversation. Ask what they think is OK for children of different ages – they’ll feel involved in the decision-making.

Be aware that your child might talk about friends who use apps or visit sites that you’ve decided aren’t suitable. Be ready to discuss your reasons, but recognise that they may not agree with you. Listen carefully for the reasons why.

Go through a final list of sites you both agree are OK, and work out when you’ll next discuss it.

Talk about things they, or their friends, have seen that made them feel uncomfortable:

  1. Be specific. What exactly made them feel uncomfortable and why? Is it people or animals being hurt? Nasty comments about others?
  2. Link these to things in the real world, and explain that you’re always here to protect and help them online and off.
  3. Reassure your child that they can always talk to you about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  4. Show them how to report or block on the sites and apps they use. Use Net Aware to find out how.
  5. Tell them you’ll help them to report anything upsetting they’ve seen, or to deal with online bullying.