Children can become victims of abuse on the internet through online games, social networking sites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, which they can access through devices including tablets, mobile phones and games consoles.

To help protect children while they're online, follow these steps:

  • encourage them to talk to you about how they use the internet and show you what they do - make sure they know they can come to you for advice
  • have an agreement in place and set boundaries for their internet use, such as when and where they can use their devices and for how long
  • check age ratings that come with games, apps, films and social networks to confirm whether they’re suitable
  • activate parental controls on your home broadband and all devices including mobile phones and game consoles
  • safe settings can also be activated on sites such as Google, YouTube and iPlayer
  • get to grips with the blocking and report functions on any gaming sites and make sure they know how to use them too
  • make sure they're aware of the risks of sharing images online and that you both know how to remove content should you need to.
Watch Breck's Last Game, a film that tells the story of teenager Breck Bednar, who like many youngsters his age loved playing computer games, but was groomed online.

Useful links

The charities, groups and organisations below can provide information and support.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre
The national police agency for tackling offenders who use the internet to groom and abuse children.

ThinkUKnow
A website run by CEOP (see above) for people of all ages, providing easy-to-understand advice and ways to get in touch.

Childline
A free, private and confidential service where children can talk to a trained counsellor about anything that’s troubling them, any time of day.

Get Safe Online
Free and impartial security advice on how to stay safe online and protect your internet-connected devices.

UK Safer Internet Centre 
The advice centre provides information on online safety for young people (from aged three to 11 and from 11 to 19), parents and carers, and teachers and professionals.