How to Keep your children safe on the internet

We take your child’s safety very seriously and we are committed to helping families enjoy the Internet safely. The Internet is an integral part of our lives, and for children it provides a lot of fun, entertainment and a great space for learning and communicating.

Exploring the Internet is something that the family can do together. When your children are young it’s good to sit with them and watch them navigate the web, giving them a helping hand when necessary. As children get older they want greater privacy – but if they are away from you, then drop in from time to time.

Chat with them about the sites they have found and ask them to show you any games or videos they have been playing.

Like all good parents we know you may have concerns about the potential risks that your child could face when online. Kids can find inappropriate material, unintentionally download viruses, suffer cyber bullying and need to be aware of the possibility of “stranger danger”. So, just how do you begin to protect your child?

Safe Surfing

What kids need to know and how to tell them

Begin by talking to your children. Find out which sites they visit and ask what their friends do online. You can also talk about the sites they go to when away from home, perhaps at school, at a friend’s or in the public library.

Once you’re talking, you can raise any issues and agree your “internet ground rules”. Before your child sits down at the computer you can:-

  • Set time limits (when and how long)
  • Agree the sites that the children can go to without checking with you first
  • Ensure that your child knows they can come to you or another adult if they find material that concerns them

It is a good idea to have the computer in a central location so that you can keep an eye on what your child is doing online. If you have an older child who is using a computer in their own room, and you are worried about the sites they may have been visiting, then it can be quite useful to keep an eye on the browser history.

Stranger danger

The online world is very like the real world in many respects and not everyone is just what he or she seems to be. You need to make sure that your child does not give out too much information when they are chatting to people they don’t know. Your child should never give:-

  • Their Home address
  • The name of the school that they go to
  • Their email address
  • A photo of themselves
  • Their real name – they should use a nickname/screen name
  • Passwords

They should never meet up with anyone they have communicated with online, either in a chat room or through Instant Messaging (IM).

Advise your children to tell you immediately if they get a message from a stranger saying, “Don’t tell anyone about what we are doing.”

If your child has received a worrying message report it to the site administrator.


Email is a great way for kids to communicate but they do need to know that they should not open emails from strangers or download attachments from people or sites they don’t know. You will need to explain that an email or attachment can carry a virus and what that virus could do to the computer.

Web cams

If your child uses a web cam on your computer be aware that ‘real time’ abuse of children can happen. Even from a distance children can become victims of predatory or grooming behaviour so keep a watchful eye on who your children are communicating with.


It’s important to remind your kids that when they are online they need to behave with the same courtesy they would if they were having a face to face conversation. They should not use abusive language, but if they receive hurtful or vicious comments then they need to tell you or another trusted adult.

Safety software

There are a lot of tools on the market that will help you to control access to certain sites. Browsers have built in access controls, as do social networking sites. Your ISP provider will have child safety information available and you can purchase extra filtering and blocking software.

Parental controls are very useful and with them you can:-

  • Set time limits for your child to be on the computer
  • Filter explicit and unsuitable material
  • Block outgoing content so that a child cannot send out personal details

If you do use special filtering software remember to keep it up to date as new threats are continually appearing.

Information – Hints & Tips

Keeping Children Safe Online   The official Department for Education and Employment guide to internet safety UK Safer Internet Centre.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre – Internet Safety – CEOP 

Visit — the CEOP Centre’s online safety centre providing advice and tips for children and adults of all ages


European Schoolsnet contains links to various European governments’ educational websites at .

NSPCC Help and Advice Safety tips for parents and carers on Social Networking and User Interactive Sites. Click here.

Where to go to report problems

Illegal material

The Internet Watch Foundation is run by the UK Internet industry, and provides a hotline for people to report material which they think is illegal. Further details can be found here.

Additional filtering and blocking software

Filtering software

Information about various different systems is available at

Safe Surfing Frequently Asked Questions


What do I do if my child comes across violent/inappropriate content?

You need to immediately report this to the site administrator and your ISP.

What does it mean if a chat/IM service says it’s moderated?

If a chat or IM service says that it is moderated this usually means that someone is watching what is being put up online. However, you need to be aware that there are different levels of moderation and it is best to find out just what type of moderation is on offer.

  • Technical Moderation – automated
  • Human Moderation – responsible person who judges whether content appropriate
  • Post Moderation – content reviewed after publication
  • Pre Moderation – content approved before publication
  • Reactive Moderation – content only looked at if someone has flagged up a problem

What should I tell my child to do if he/she is cyber bullied?

Advise your child not to respond and to tell you or a trusted adult. Online abuse can happen at any time when your child is online and can be anything from cruel and hurtful comments in a chat room, email or on an un-moderated message board. Tell your child not to delete the evidence and you need to report the abuser. For more advice, tips and to report severe abuse contact Beat Bullying

What are the top tips to tell my child when it comes to safe chatting?

  • Always use a nickname – not your real name
  • Keep all your personal information secret
  • Never agree to meet someone you don’t know
  • Be careful who you trust
  • Don’t send an unknown person your photograph
  • Stick to public chat rooms
  • Be especially careful what you publish on social networking sites

Is it safe for my child to open an email attachment from someone they don’t know?

No it’s not. It should be deleted as the attachment may carry a virus that will damage the computer.

Is IM safe for my child?

Instant messaging (IM) can be great fun but if you have safety concerns social networking/instant messaging tools can be filtered; the filter works by checking certain words or phrases. However, you can tell your child never to respond to an Instant Message from someone they don’t know. Advise them to stay in the age limited areas on the sites that you have allowed them to access. Try to keep an eye on their online activity.

Can I stop my child viewing unsuitable videos online?

Yes, there is video filtering software available that blocks any inappropriate video material that is online. It works by accessing the metadata (descriptive text and tags) around the video.

What should I tell my child about registering on sites?

If a site asks your child to register it may only be for marketing information and to sell something. However some sites will not allow access until registration is completed. Tell your child to seek your permission before they register so you can make your own judgement.