Online safety guidance for parents and carers

Staying safe online

During this period, we recognise that children and young people are likely to spend more time online, whether that is for entertainment, to stay in touch with friends and family or to support their home learning. There are clearly many benefits to staying connected, however, increased time spent online may also increase the risk of encountering online safety issues.

We recognise that as a parent or carer you may have concerns about this and this guidance is intended to support you to quickly navigate the online safety guidance and education resources available and access the information and advice you need. This includes practical tips on how to set up age-appropriate parental controls on devices and guidance on specific online issues. Resources are available to support the needs of all learners, including those with additional learning needs (ALN).

Details of trusted partner organisations and support services, all of which are operational during this time, are provided in the ‘Further help and support’ section should you or your child require further support and guidance on a particular issue. The wellbeing and welfare of children and young people remains a priority and you and your child are encouraged to report or seek advice on anything that might be worrying you online.

As always, if you are worried that a child or young person is being abused or neglected please report your concerns to Children’s services. If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger then contact the police on 999.

The experience of managing your child’s learning from home may be new to you. We want to reassure you that there are plenty of resources and guidance available on Keeping safe online on Hwb to help you and your child to keep safe online. These resources have been designed to support regular conversations with your child about the importance of using technology safely and responsibly.

This playlist for parents and carers provides helpful guidance and activities to develop understanding of online safety issues and support children when at home. The activities can be used to teach children about the importance of safe and responsible use of technology.

Additionally the National Crime Agency have provided home activity packs for you to work on with your child, each containing 15-minute simple and fun online safety activities.

Activities for 4-5 year olds
Activities for 5-7 year olds
Activities for 8-10 year olds
Activities for 11-13 year olds
Activities for 14+ year olds

The guidance below explores some online safety considerations and points you towards helpful education resources that can help you learn with your child.

It is important that the devices and software your children use to stay connected are secure. Here are some practical steps you can take to reduce the risk of cyber-attacks:

  • ensure software on devices is up to date including anti-virus protection
  • use strong passwords (update any default passwords), protect them and do not share login details
  • where possible consider enabling two factor authentication
  • keep information your children share online to a minimum

Phishing emails

A phishing e-mail is a message which asks users to follow a link to an unknown website which could download malware onto your computer, or steal passwords. To prevent this from happening please ensure you do not follow a link to an unknown website. Currently there is a high number of phishing emails circulating about Coronavirus and it is recommended that you action caution around emails from unknown senders.

Further guidance and tips on how to stay secure online during this period is available from Cyber Aware (NCSC).

If you believe you have been targeted by fraud or cyber attacks you can report this to Action Fraud the UK’s National reporting centre for cyber crime.

Sharing content is an important part of what we do on the internet and while it offers positive opportunities, it can present challenges. It is important that your child understands the risks of sharing personal information online. The resources listed below look at issues such as  giving consent, managing privacy and sharing information and will help you and your child to make informed choices.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Gaming can offer several benefits. It can improve problem-solving skills, sharpen visual processing, enhance memory power and provide moments of diversion and play. However, it is important for your child to stay safe while gaming by taking regular breaks, knowing who they are talking to and reporting any concerns to the game moderators or a trusted adult.

The resources listed below provide information about the benefits and risks of online gaming and steps that can be taken to ensure your child stays safe. Links are also provided to some safe and secure educational games available on Hwb.

Gaming (Parents and carers)

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Educational games on Hwb:

As your child becomes more active online, there is an increased possibility they will come across content that upsets them. Some of this could be illegal or could be considered offensive.

You can report offensive or upsetting content such as online abuse or threats, self-harm or suicide content or unwanted sexual advances to the Report Harmful Content website.

If you or your child encounter any inappropriate or sexual images or videos of someone you believe to be under 18, report it anonymously to the Internet Watch Foundation.

The resources below will help you to consider the impact of illegal and offensive content and look at strategies for managing the online environment to reduce the risks.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

During this time, your child’s school may choose to live-stream some lessons.

Just as in school, professionalism and safeguarding must be integral to the delivery of live-streamed lessons and teachers should ensure the lesson is safe for your child.

Live-streaming and video-conferencing: safeguarding principles and practice guidance has been published for schools to ensure your child is appropriately protected and safeguarded.

Here are some ways that you can help support your child to actively and safely participate in a live-streamed lesson:

  • Familiarise yourself with the features live streaming platform before the lesson.
  • If at all possible let your child work from a space like the kitchen or the living room if these spaces are not too busy.
  • Depending on your child’s age, it would be beneficial if you or a trusted adult were in the room or close by and available.
  • If your child does not want to switch their camera on, they can choose to turn it off.
  • If your child does choose to turn their camera on, help them consider carefully what is in view of the camera, checking that it does not contain images or information that you would not want shared.
  • Microsoft Teams in Hwb enables the background to be blurred and it is recommended that your child uses this feature.
  • If your child can use a headset with a microphone (like those available with many mobile phones), this will provide better audio clarity.
  • Encourage good behaviour in your child during the live-streamed lesson, just as would be expected in school.
  • We know that things are not easy at the moment, if your child is unable to participate in live streamed lessons for instance home may be very busy for you or it might be difficult to find an appropriate space the teacher will understand if you get in touch to explain.

Many of us are relying on social platforms to communicate with friends and family through apps and websites such as FaceTime, Skype, Houseparty, Whatsapp or Facebook messenger. Live-streaming is becoming another popular way for children and young people to stay connected.

Live-streaming is the broadcasting of real-time, live video using the internet. When you live-stream, your audience can see what you are doing and comment on your broadcast.

Children and young people are using live-streaming services to broadcast and watch others live-stream, this can include celebrities, video bloggers (or ‘vloggers’) and ‘gamers’, as well as friends and family.

Whilst live-streaming can be a positive outlet for children and young people to express themselves and connect with people who have similar interests, it can also have serious consequences.

The resources below explore what live-streaming is, the risks and opportunities that it presents and how children and young people can stay safe to ensure they have a positive experience.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Further information on live-streaming and video apps and how to keep your child safe is available on the NSPCC website.

There is growing research looking at the impact of the internet on children and young people’s mood and mental health. The internet itself is not the main cause of poor mental health but the way children and young people use the internet can impact them.

The resources below explore how you can help your child to think about the positive and negative impact of online experiences.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

We are increasingly accessing news and information through social media platforms rather than traditional sources. This can result in us getting confused by misleading information. It is important to encourage your child to check the source and reliability of information and develop their critical thinking.

For more information and resources visit our stop the spread of misinformation page.

Many of us are finding new ways to communicate and stay in contact. Just as you would with your child’s offline behaviour, it is a good idea to keep an eye on their online behaviour too.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Online hate is any online communication or expression that encourages or promotes hatred, discrimination or violence, against any person or group. This online hate could relate to their race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity. The resources below explore what online hate speech is, the motives behind it, the effect on those targeted and the ways you can support your child to challenge it positively and safely.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

The Report Harmful Content website can be used to report offensive content, such as online abuse or threats. The service can support you to get the content removed if it does not adhere to the platform’s community standards. It is recognised that this might not solve the issue and depending on the situation you may also want to report it as a hate crime so that the police can investigate.

Your child may be spending more time online than ever before. From gaming platforms to social networks and other platforms, digital technology allows us to stay in touch.  However, not all online interactions are positive.

The resources below provide you with guidance to discuss this topic with your child and help them think about their online relationships.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Protecting children and young people from abuse remains a police priority during this time.

If you have concerns about inappropriate communication online then you can also report this to the National Crime Agency – CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection).

If you are concerned that your child has been a victim of child sexual abuse, whether that is online or offline, then you should report this by calling 999 (the police) or contacting the National Crime Agency – CEOP.

If your child wants to talk anonymously about something that is worrying them, contact information for expert organisations is included in the ‘Further help and support’ section.

We all know how important the internet is for young people. However, for many young people, they can get caught up in or become victims of unacceptable online behaviours, which can make them feel threatened, exploited, coerced, humiliated, upset, sexualised or discriminated against.

Online sexual harassment can be defined as unwanted sexual behaviour on any digital platform. Online sexual harassment can include a wide range of behaviours that use digital content (images, videos, posts, messages, pages) on a variety of different online platforms (private or public).

Pornography and the extent to which your child may be exposed to it is something that concerns many parents and carers.

Guidance for parents and carers:

The aim of the resources below is to provide age-appropriate ways that you can talk about the subject of pornography with your child.

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Being able to communicate with a wide audience through the internet can be rewarding and positive, but for some, it provides them with the ability to persuade others to support extremism, or oppose British values.

Guidance for parents and carers:

You can report terrorism related content to the police’s Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit. If you are concerned about your child or another family member or friend being radicalised you can seek advice from the police by calling 101 and, if necessary, complete a Prevent referral form so that they can receive local safeguarding support.

Whether we are learning or working online, speaking with friends and family, gaming or seeking information, technology plays a significant role in our daily lives. Balancing screen time has become an important consideration to ensure that children and young people use technology in a positive and healthy way.

The resources below explore the impact screen time and technology can have on children and young people's mental health and considers ways to help promote a positive and healthy use of technology.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

With more of us having mobile devices and from an earlier age, it is now easier than ever to take and share an image. Sharing images can be fun however, it is important for your child to consider what they share and how it reflects on them.

The resources below explore the topic of sharing images, the risks that young people face and provide practical advice on how you can support your child to be safe online.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Sharing nudes and semi-nudes – sometimes referred to as ‘sexting’ – is the creation and/or sharing of nude or semi-nude images, videos or live streams by young people under the age of 18. The Sharing images resource provides information on the consequences as well as practical advice if your child finds them self in this situation.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Social media apps and platforms continue to be popular with children and young people – used wisely, they can offer many benefits. The following resources explain some of the risks and benefits of using social media and how to help your child use them in a positive way.

Social media checklists - These updated handy checklists on using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Roblox are aimed at everyone who uses social networks and are useful for educational practitioners, parents/carers and learners. The checklists can be downloaded and provide information on managing your data and privacy, and using the safety and reporting features available on these social networks.

Guidance for parents and carers:

Learning resources for primary and secondary learners:

Hwb hosts 10 of the NSPCC’s NetAware online safety guides, including guides on YouTube and WhatsApp. They provide information on your child’s online world and how you can help them stay safe.

This is a rapidly evolving area and, in recognition of this, and to support families to stay safe online at this unprecedented time, information on popular social media platforms and supporting resources will be published in May. This will include the most up to date information on Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Roblox, Twitter, Facebook, Misinformation, and Houseparty.

Keeping safe online on Hwb contains a wide range of advice, guidance and resources that you can access to find out more about keeping your child safe online.

There are also a number of organisations that provide different types of support:

If your child wants to talk to a professional completely anonymously


Help for adults concerned about a child or a child who wants to talk to a professional completely anonymously


If your child needs support and advice about any worries they may have


For concerns about online sexual abuse


For help and support to remove harmful online content

Report Harmful Content

For support with feelings of isolation and disconnection that can lead to suicide

Samaritans Cymru

For help and advice about violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence

Live Fear Free

For more general support on parenting visit