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Updated guidance for keeping children safe online

We have updated our guidance for parents and carers to keep children safe online. The measures announced over recent weeks to tackle coronavirus (COVID-19), although essential, have disrupted people’s day-to-day lives.

As a result of these necessary measures, almost all of us are likely to be spending more time online, including children. This guidance contains resources for parents and carers to help keep their children safe online.

While there are huge benefits to being online to stay connected to family and friends during this period, the government recognises many parents feel concerned about the activities and content their children are accessing. This guidance outlines resources to help keep children safe from different risks online and where to go to get support and advice.

Keep your child safe online

It is important to have regular conversations about staying safe online and to encourage children to speak to you if they come across something worrying online.

Talk to your child about the importance of creating a safe online environment, including keeping any log-in details and passwords safe.

These resources will support you to talk to your child about a range of online safety issues, set up home filtering in a child-friendly way and set up age-appropriate parental controls on digital devices:

Age-inappropriate content and parental controls

If you have downloaded new apps or bought new technology to help stay connected at this time, remember to review and adjust privacy and safety settings if you or your child is signing up to a new online service.

  • Internet Matters has step-by-step guides on how to set up parental controls so that you can control what content your child can access online
  • the UK Safer Internet Centre has guidance on how to switch on family-friendly filters to prevent age-inappropriate content being accessed on devices in your home
  • the NSPCC has more information for parents or carers with concerns about their child seeking inappropriate or explicit content online

Apps to help children stay safe online

The BBC has a website and app called Own It. The website helps children navigate their online lives, and the free smartphone app comes with a special keyboard which can intervene with help and support in the moments that children need it the most. It can be downloaded for free in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

SafeToNet is an app for parents to help them protect their children from online risks like cyberbullying and sexting, while respecting their child’s rights to privacy. The SafeToNet Foundation is providing UK families with free-for-life access to SafeToNet during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.