Helping Children Stay Safe Online

Internet and mobile phones

The internet offers children access to information, communication with their friends and opportunities for exploring the wider world. Children get a lot of benefit from being online.  However they should have parental supervision and good advice to make sure their experiences are happy and safe.

Parents and carers need to be aware of problems that can arise, such as bullying and grooming, and know what to do.  Here are some useful links that will provide appropriate information to help you in guiding your children.

BBC Webwise
A beginners guide to using the internet with interactive tutorials about all aspects of computer and internet use, getting started on social networks, privacy and safety online. 

Kidsmart - for parents
Kidsmart is an award winning practical internet safety programme website for schools, young people, parents, and agencies, produced by the children's internet charity Childnet International. This link will take you to practical advice and support on how to help your children use the internet and new technology in safe and responsible ways.

ThinkUKnow - parents section
Advice from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.  Understanding the internet and what the risks are of grooming, mobiles, gaming, social networking and chat.

Guidance on tackling on-line bullying
The award-winning charity Bullying Online was founded in 1999 by journalist Liz Carnell from Harrogate and her son John, as a direct result of their experience of dealing with school bullying.

ChatGuide
A booklet for parents on all types of chat from instant messaging and chat rooms to mobile phones.

ParentPort
ParentPort is run by the UK's media regulators.  Who set and enforce standards across the media to protect children from inappropriate material. At ParentPort you can find out the standards expected from the media, make a complaint and share your views.

Choose
A guide for parents/carers on parental control software

Child Safety Online

A practical and simple guide for parents and carers whose children are using social media. Understand the risks, the ways in which social media could affect your child, practical tips and who to make a report to.

What happens when texting goes wrong - A short guide to what you should do when texting goes wrong including advice, the law and helplines.

INFORMATION ON ONLINE MESSAGING PLATFORMS

TEXTING APPS

Kik Messenger is an app that lets kids text for free. It's fast and has no message limits, character limits, or fees if you only use the basic features. Because it's an app, the texts won't show up on your kid's phone's messaging service, and you're not charged for them (beyond standard data rates).

What parents need to know

ooVoo is a free video, voice, and messaging app. Users can have group chats with up to 12 people for free -- and it's common for kids to log on after school and keep it open while doing homework. Maybe they're using it for group study sessions?

 What parents need to know

WhatsApp lets users send text messages, audio messages, videos, and photos to one or many people with no message limits or fees.

What parents need to know

MICRO-BLOGGING APPS AND SITES

Instagram lets users snap, edit, and share photos and 15-second videos, either publicly or with a private network of followers. It unites the most popular features of social media sites: sharing, seeing, and commenting on photos. It also lets you apply fun filters and effects to your photos, making them look high-quality and artistic.

What parents need to know

Tumblr is like a cross between a blog and Twitter: It's a streaming scrapbook of text, photos, and/or videos and audio clips. Users create and follow short blogs, or "tumblogs," that can be seen by anyone online (if made public). Many teens have tumblogs for personal use: sharing photos, videos, musings, and things they find funny with their friends.

What parents need to know

Twitter is a microblogging tool that allows users to post brief, 140-character messages -- called "tweets" -- and follow other users' activities. It's not only for adults; teens like using it to share tidbits and keep up with news and celebrities.

What parents need to know

Vine is a social media app that lets users post and watch looping six-second video clips. This Twitter-owned service has developed a unique community of people who post videos that are often creative, funny, and sometimes thought-provoking. Teens usually use Vine to create and share silly videos of themselves and/or their friends and families.

What parents need to know

Parents can be star performers (without their knowledge). If your teens film you being goofy or silly, you may want to talk about whether they plan to share it.

LIVE-STREAMING VIDEO APPS

YouNow: Broadcast, Chat, and Watch Live Video is an app that lets kids stream and watch live broadcasts. As they watch, they can comment or buy gold bars to give to other users. Ultimately, the goal is to get lots of viewers, start trending, and grow your fan base. Note that there are other apps like this that are less popular with teens such as Periscope, but Facebook has just included live-streaming as a feature, so expect to see more and more personal broadcasting.

What parents need to know

SELF-DESTRUCTING/SECRET APPS

Burn Note is a messaging app that erases messages after a set period of time. Unlike many other apps of this sort, it limits itself to text messages; users cannot send pictures or video. That may reduce issues such as sexting -- but words can hurt, too. 

What parents need to know

Snapchat is a messaging app that lets users put a time limit on the pictures and videos they send before they disappear. Most teens use the app to share goofy or embarrassing photos without the risk of them going public. However, there are lots of opportunities to use it in other ways.

What parents need to know

Whisper is a social "confessional" app that allows users to post whatever's on their minds, paired with an image. With all the emotions running through teens, anonymous outlets give them the freedom to share their feelings without fear of judgment.

What parents need to know

Yik Yak is a free social-networking app that lets users post brief, Twitter-like comments to the 500 geographically nearest Yik Yak users. Kids can find out opinions, secrets, rumors, and more. Plus, they'll get the bonus thrill of knowing all these have come from a 1.5-mile radius (maybe even from the kids at the desks in front of them!).  

What parents need to know

CHATTING, MEETING, DATING APPS AND SITES

MeetMe: Chat and Meet New People -- the name says it all. Although not marketed as a dating app, MeetMe does have a "Match" feature whereby users can "secretly admire" others, and its large user base means fast-paced communication and guaranteed attention.

What parents need to know

Omegleis a chat site (and app) that puts two strangers together in their choice of a text chat or a video chat room. Being anonymous can be very attractive to teens, and Omegle provides a no-fuss opportunity to make connections. Its "interest boxes" also let users filter potential chat partners by shared interests.

What parents need to know

Skout is a flirting app that allows users to sign up as teens or adults. They're then placed in the appropriate peer group, where they can post to a feed, comment on others' posts, add pictures, and chat. They'll get notifications when other users near their geographic area join, and they can search other areas by cashing in points. They receive notifications when someone "checks" them out but must pay points to see who it is.

What parents need to know

Tinder is a photo and messaging dating app for browsing pictures of potential matches within a certain-mile radius of the user's location. It's very popular with 20-somethings as a way to meet new people for casual or long-term relationships.

What parents need to know

The bottom line for most of these tools? If teens are using them respectfully, appropriately, and with a little parental guidance, they should be fine. Take inventory of your kids' apps and review the best practices.


 

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