Common childhood illnesses & well-being
A parent's guide for children aged 5-11
Digital safety

Digital safety

New technology, old problem

The internet is part of life. It opens up many educational and social opportunities, giving access to a world of information and experiences. Whether on a computer at school or at home, a games console or mobile phone, children are accessing the internet whenever they can and wherever they are.

Children have a different language that we as parents need to learn and understand. If you and your child understand the risks you can get the most from the internet and stay safe. Chatrooms can be used by paedophiles to meet children and often the child thinks they are the same age. They can also ‘groom’ children to become victims, either psychologically on the internet itself, or by arranging to actually meet with them, gain their trust and abuse them. Make sure your child does not give away any personal details. The police and children’s services have specialist teams trained to counter these forms of exploitation and offer support to children and parents.

The minimum age to open a Facebook account is 13 but it is easy to fib about your age. It is estimated that 30% of children between 8 and 13 have Facebook profiles (Source: BBC News Technology). There are online social networking clubs aimed at children between 6 and 14. You need to know what your child is looking at.

Make sure grandparents and other family members are aware of the dangers.


The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is dedicated to eradicating the sexual abuse of children. They are part of UK policing and are very much about tracking and bringing offenders to account either directly or in partnership with local and international forces. If you are in immediate danger contact the police. Also visit

Set ground rules:

Limit time spent on the internet.

  • Behavioural problems can cause a lot of distress to children, their siblings, families and local communities.

  • Talk about age appropriate websites.

  • Tell them to never give out contact details or post photos of themselves on the internet.

  • They should always let you know if someone is asking questions or wanting details they do not feel happy about.

  • Ensure social networking profiles are set to ‘private’ so only friends can view them.

Make sure your child understands why there needs to be rules. Because they can not see or hear the people they chat to, they may not be who they seem.

Internet hazards:

Limit time spent on the internet.

  • It is easy and fast - making a decision at the click of a button can cause long-term problems.

  • I am in the privacy of my own home - because they may be at home, and cannot be seen, children may be more reckless and bold in their actions. The emotional and physical distance of being online gives a false feeling of security.

  • Mob mentality - social networking groups may have ‘pages’ specifically designed to target and bully individuals. It is easy to be anonymous and feel less responsible for actions.


Your child is using the internet in secret. They know their way around the computer better than you do.


Could they be visiting unsuitable sites, or chatting with someone who may harm them?


Learn about the internet yourself. Keep the computer in a family room. Limit computer time.