Online Safety

Smart Tips


Speak to your child and take an interest in their online lives

Introduce them to the idea of ‘netiquette’ – treating others as they wish to be treated.

Reassure your child that they can talk to you about their experiences online without fear of being told off.


Set network level filters in place to restrict access to inappropriate content.

Be aware that Wi-Fi enabled mobile phones can get around these filters.

Discuss privacy settings on social networking sites.

Say no to social networking profiles if your child is too young (the lowest age limit for most is 13)


Have a go online yourself – try social networking, blogging etc to help you develop your understanding.

Look at sites together – especially user generated content – and set rules about what they can look at.

Understand and respect their privacy, particularly for older children/teens.

Once they’ve demonstrated responsibility, take a step back and engage with their online/mobile behaviour only when necessary.

Mobile Phones

Just as in chat rooms and social networking sites, young people need to think about who they text and talk with. They should never text/talk to strangers. Phones should only be used to communicate with people they know in the real world.

Since young people’s social lives increasingly fold in mobile phones, cyberbullying and harassment have gone mobile too. Talk with your kids about how the same manners and ethics you’ve always taught them apply on phones and computers, as in ‘real life’.

Many social networking sites have a downloadable ‘app’ that allows users to check their profiles and post comments from their phones. That means some teens can access social networking website from literally anywhere, in which case any filter you may have installed on a home computer does nothing to block them. Talk with your teens about where they’re accessing their profiles or blogs from, and whether they’re using the same good sense about how they’re social networking on their phones.

More and more mobile phones have GPS technology installed, which means teens who have these phones can pinpoint their friends’ physical location – or be pinpointed by their friends. Talk with your kids about using such technology and advise them to use it only with friends they know in person.

Most mobile phones we use today have cameras, and teens love to share media with friends on all types of mobile devices. There is both a personal-reputation and -safety aspect to this. Talk with your teens about never letting other people photograph or film them in embarrassing or inappropriate situations (and vice versa). They need to understand their own and others’ privacy rights in sharing photos and videos via mobile phones.

We’ve already been over many smart, or 3G-phone features above, but remember they usually include the Web (Internet). That means more and more people can access all that the Web offers, appropriate or not, on their phones as well as computers. Most mobile networks offer filtering services, which you should be able to locate on their website.

Mobile Phone Security Controls

Most mobile phone networks will provide a content filtering system for Under 18’s. Information on how to activate this should be freely available on their website, or by calling their call centre.

Social Networking

Most social networking websites enforce a minimum age restriction of 14 years of age. Essentially all social networking sites operate along the same lines: you register with your name, address, date of birth, email and phone number and then fill in a personal profile which will cover things like your favourite music, bands, films and other interests. All this appears on your own webpage.

Some sites allow you to design your own page in your own style. You can usually also upload photos, ‘post’ links to other websites and send messages to your friends. Most sites give you the option to keep your profile information secret except for your approved friends, although you have to choose to do this (Facebook Privacy Settings webpage).

The popularity of social networking sites means your children are probably going to want to establish their own profile on at least one of them. If you’re concerned about this, then set a few ground rules:-

Make sure they only let ‘friends’ they actually know see their profile. You may need to explain to your child that, online, not everyone is who they claim to be.

Agree what kind of pictures they can put online, especially if they have a camera on their mobile phone or their own digital camera.

Ensure they know that any ‘rules’ you’ve agreed on for the internet use (time allowed on, etc) apply to social networking sites too.

This information is a reproduction from the Care for the Family Internet Safety guide. The full guide can be found on the left hand menu at the top of this webpage.

Accessing Inappropriate Content

Develop your childs’ media literacy – help them think about responsible content choices, learn how to filter, feel able to discuss ’embarrassing’ topics with you.

Understand that children are curious and also that peer pressure may influence their decision making. Help them think about their own values and respect for themselves and the opposite gender.

For younger children, consider buying a phone without web browsing ability or call the network to switch the phones data function off.

Investigate the free content filtering options out there, both for computers and for mobile phones. Some mobile phone networks provide these free of charge.


Think before you post. Discuss the risks of sharing information with friends or others – not only in terms of reputation but also in terms of giving others access to personal information that could be used against you.

Ensure children are aware that content published to the web is there forever – although web content can be deleted, it is still web archived, and can often still be found. Make children aware of the ‘digital footprint’ they are creating of themselves every time they upload something online and make them think how this could be used against them in the future.

Treat others as you wish to be treated. Encourage children to never post images of others without their permission.

Make sure there is no personal/sensitive data being stored on mobile phones, as it could fall in to the wrong hands by either being lost or stolen.

Google yourself every now and again. It will show students what is already online about them and what others can see. You may be able to make changes if you don’t like what you see by submitting your request via Google.


Introduce and explain the concept of ‘netiquette’ – treating others online the way they wish to be treated.

If a student is the target of cyberbullies, encourage them to ignore the communications and never respond or retaliate, as this can just make things worse.

There are various functions available on social networking sites and messaging apps that can block users, preventing them from sending nasty messages. Try to save and print out any bullying messages, posts, pictures or videos that are received or seen; make a note of the dates and times of bullying messages, along with any details you have about the senders ID.

Ensure they understand the concept of protecting their privacy and keeping their personal information private. Never let anyone have access to their passwords and check their privacy settings on their accounts.

School computers have a CEOP (Child Exploitation & Online Protection) button which you should encourage your child to use if they meet inappropriate content online. You can also report content at

Stranger Danger

Online, there are lots for ways that strangers can deceive children in order to get to know them.

Encourage your children to only add or accept invitations from friends when using social networking site, or messaging services.

Highlight the risks of speaking to, or messaging strangers online through their computer or mobile phone.

Ensure they understand they should NEVER meet anyone offline (in the real world) that they have only ever met online – they may not be who they say they are.

Explain that by possessing or distributing indecent images of another young person (under the age of 18) they are technically in possession of an indecent image of a child, which is an illegal offence.

For support and advice see or visit to report the receipt of indecent images via the ‘CEOP Report’ button.

Excessive Use

Some young people can start to show signs of dependence on their computer or mobile phone. In turn this can lead to their phone or computer getting in the way of offline life (e.g. socialising, doing homework, or sleeping), anxiety if the device is not nearby, and huge phone bills.

1. Set up a daily or weekly limit

2. Ensure there are parts of the day when computers or phones are not used – e.g. mealtimes, homework time, or late at night. Some routers (the little box which connects to your phone line) can be configured so that the Internet is unavailable at set times.

3. Enforce strict rules and confiscate the computer or phone if these are broken.