How to talk to children about online safety

Young boy online

Your children are growing up with social media, but may not be aware of how to safely use these services. After all, children don’t want to read the terms and conditions, they simply click OK!

If you are a parent or a teacher, you can take advantage of a number of useful resources including lesson ideas and simplified versions of the terms and conditions for the major social media networks, and help your child learn more about the benefits and dangers of using the internet. You will also help to improve their critical thinking – a skill they need throughout their lives!

Several teaching packs, put together by the Children’s Commissioner for England, and Childnet, help young people become more empowered digital citizens. Learn about the terms and conditions of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, YouTube and more, how to behave with empathy and respect online, and what to do if you see or experience cyber-bullying.

Safer Internet Day (#SID2018), celebrated this year on 6 February, is an ideal time to talk to your class or your children about the many aspects of using the internet safely, especially social media.

Resources for young children

Talk about internet safety using these resource packs for 3-7 year olds and 7-11 year olds, containing a range of activities, videos, lesson plans and posters created specifically to help students of different ages discuss how to work together to make the internet a better place for everyone. 

Help young students become aware of their need to stay safe online with the practical tips outlined in these internet safety posters, which can be coloured in and displayed around the classroom. The comprehensive lesson ideas, with activities, worksheets and advice on how to involve your class in discussions about online safety, make it easy for teachers to talk about the potential risks and rewards of social media and the internet.

Resources for older students

Teenagers are most likely to spend a lot of time on the internet and see social media as a central part of their daily lives – but they rarely think about online safety, or even the wider impact of their social media posts. Grab the attention of 11-14 year olds and 14-18 year olds with these resource packs full of ideas for engaging discussions, quick activities and small community projects.

Take a closer look at cyberbullying, what it actually is, plus what effects and consequences it can have. Encourage a discussion about digital empathy and how children can protect themselves and their friends against cyberbullying with this thoughtful presentation.

Help for parents

Childnet have a huge section of resources available for parents and carers of children of all ages. If you aren’t familiar with the internet and social media yourself, you can use these pages to get up to speed quickly, so you can start to talk to your children and encourage them to lead happy and safe online lives.