The challenge of keeping children and young people safe when online

Keeping children safe online can sometimes seem an uphill battle for parents and carers, with new apps being launched faster than we can get to grips with the ones already on our young people’s phones.

By The Newsroom
Friday, 08 March, 2019, 11:24
A teenage girl looking at social media on her laptop computer.

The NSPCC has a lot of parents making contact about fears over their children’s online activity, but here at Childline we get a lot of children and young people with concerns over their own activity too.

One young user told us: “I was stupid enough to send nudes a couple of years ago.

“I sent them multiple times thinking it was such a cool thing to do, but I know it’s not.

“Even though the pictures on Snapchat don’t save, it keeps coming up in my mind.

“It plays on my mind all the time. I feel like I’ve betrayed my parents, my family and my friends.

“I know now that it’s stupid and not clever, and I wish I could undo it or tell my younger self that it’s bad.”

While the internet is still an amazing tool, full of great resources and ways for young people to communicate with each other, we all know there still are many dangers and difficult situations children can face online.

So it is worth repeating that no matter what apps and new internet crazes come about, the advice for parents and children is still the same.

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For children and young people, we advise that they are careful about what they share and who they share with.

We hear a lot from children who post explicit images of themselves, but this can also mean sharing seemingly innocuous information, like their school, or where they live.

We ask that young people think before they post anything online, and to understand that once something is sent it’s no longer private and it could well end up being seen by unintended people.

We also tell young people to be careful who they chat to.

It isn’t always obvious who is on the other end of a communication, so it’s always worth erring on the side of caution.

For parents and carers we would advise speaking to their children about what they’re doing online on a regular basis in a supportive way – that way young people are more likely to share anything worrying them.

For free confidential advice and support about any worries and on any subject, children and young people can contact Childline on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk