CHILDLINE ADVICE: Now is a good time to offer a few tips about online safety

As lucky young people across the North East spend the rest of the Christmas holidays enjoying their new digital devices, now’s a good time to offer a few tips for online safety.

It’s vital that children, parents and carers are aware of the potential harms that young people can encounter online, and the best way to help young people stay safe online is to speak regularly and openly to them about online safety.

Showing an interest in how they spend their time online means children will be more likely to speak to you if something upsets them.

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Just as you might ask about their day at school or their time at college, ask them what they’re doing online regularly, and don’t wait until you’re worried.

If they don’t want to speak to you but they’re worried or upset by something they’ve seen, remind them they can speak to one of our Childline volunteers.

It can be a good idea to spend time getting to know your child’s favourite apps and games and, importantly, the parental controls which help restrict the type of content they can see.

By doing this together, you can both learn more about the app or game as well as how to report or block anyone or any material they encounter that upsets them.

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If you’re worried that they’re spending too much time online, it might be helpful to sit down and agree some rules around how long they can spend on their devices or use certain games or apps.

This encourages them to think about how they spend time online and can help them develop good online habits.

Rules work best when agreed as a family, and there are helpful tips on creating these agreements on the NSPCC website.

Watch out for signs that they might need more support, such as being withdrawn or more quiet than usual, getting angry when you try to go near their device, mood swings, issues with sleeping and their mental health, or changes to their behaviour.

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If you’re worried about your child or need advice, call the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, or email [email protected]

Children can speak to our Childline counsellors on 0800 1111 or visit