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 network 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

You can also find advice about things like setting parental controls or advising your child on good password practice at Get Safe Online.

Sexual images of children and 'sexting'

It's illegal for anyone to have, share or make sexual images or videos of people under 18.

Legally this includes personal images or videos made by under 18s and shared with each other (sometimes called 'sexting').

But it's not always in the public interest to prosecute in these cases. We'll decide whether to take action depending on things like evidence of exploitation or grooming.

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.

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