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  • Although chatting online can be great fun, young people can sometimes find themselves in situations where they can feel out of their depth.

  • Risks can arise when children give out their personal details to strangers.

  • The online world can often seem very different to the real world for young people, and they can be tempted to say and do things that they wouldn't dream of if they met someone face to face.

  • Young people can be naive to this risk, and often feel that they are invincible, or that 'they would know if someone was lying'.

If they are talking to another child there is a risk that they will misuse this information - for example, by texting abusive messages to the child, or by posting their image on a website; but there is obviously a greater risk if the person that they are chatting to is an adult. Unfortunately, paedophiles - adults who want to meet young people for sex - use the internet, often with the intention of talking with and meeting a child.

What is Instagram?

Instagram has a minimum age limit of 13.

Instagram is a photo-sharing app with a lot of emphasis on the sharing – more like photo-enhanced socialising. It's a way of communicating mainly through images. Children like taking, enhancing, sharing and commenting on photos - but they're not just commenting; they're socialising with photos, creating ongoing mixed-media conversations that include plenty of likes and links.

What are the risks of using Instagram?

The main things parents should worry about are similar to other social media: mean behaviour and inappropriate photos that can hurt a child’s reputation or attract the wrong kind of attention. 

What's the best way to help children stay safe in Instagram?

Respecting ourselves and others makes us safer. Respecting others in the way that photos are shared, tagged and commented on reduces risk to ourselves and to others. Parents may want to be sure their children aren't posting provocative photos or having inappropriate interactions with people they don't know.

Should my child's profile be private?

Having a public account on Instagram means anyone can follow you. A private account means strangers can't follow you. That doesn't, though, guarantee that your child won't be seen on Instagram (or any other photo-sharing service) because people post photos of each other. So even if your child doesn't have an account, that doesn't mean they won't appear in a photo on Instagram. This means it's much better for children to be aware of the implications of posting pictures of other people without their permission and to be clear about what to do if they're unhappy with images that have appeared of themselves.




Minimum age limit of 13.

You've probably heard about Snapchat. It's the popular mobile app that allows you to send videos and pictures, both of which will delete after a few seconds of a person viewing them. Because the pictures and videos you send can only be viewed once, it’s easy to get careless. However, if you keep a few things in mind, it’s easy to stay safe with Snapchat while having a great time! 

Are pictures really deleted?

The false sense of security comes when users think their pictures are automatically deleted. Unfortunately, individuals have learned how to save screenshots through the phone itself or by taking a picture with another phone, therefore saving the picture from deletion. It is also common for users to take screenshots and post them on social media sites. 

Only take approrpiate photos

Remember that people can take screenshots of any picture you send them, and save it to their camera roll forever. Also, remember that you never know who your friend will be with when they open your Snapchat, so make sure that you do not send private information!

Keep it friends only

One of the most important aspects of using this app is to make sure you limit pictures to your friends and people you can trust. When you allow people who aren’t your friends to send you pictures or receive the ones you send, you are putting yourself at risk for receiving pictures that can get you in trouble. The safest thing to do is limit the use of this app to your closest friends.





YouTube is a great resource for both fun and education. Children love using YouTube, but how can we be sure that what they are searching for is appropriate?

YouTube Kids

For parents of younger children, consider giving access to YouTube Kids, rather than the full YouTube service. It’s free, no sign-up and it’s multi platform. You can see a video HERE

Restricted Mode

Within YouTube is a way of restricting objectionable content. It isn’t perfect, but it can help to stop your children seeing inappropriate content on their computer or other device. Restricted Mode is available on web browsers, and on the apps on most devices and is really easy to set up.

Have that conversation with your child about what they are doing on YouTube; have they got their own YouTube channel, do they upload videos?




What is WhatsApp?

WhatsApp is a mobile messaging app which allows users to exchange messages using existing phone contacts without having to pay text message fees. WhatsApp is available on most mobile devices. WhatsApp users can create groups and send each other unlimited images, video and audio messages.

Does WhatsApp have any age restrictions?

As part of its Terms of Service, WhatsApp’s minimum age of use is 13 years old.  By using WhatsApp, a user agrees to provide certain personal information such as their mobile phone number, billing and mobile device information.

Should I be concerned about WhatsApp as a parent/carer?

WhatsApp is a great way for young people to socialise with their friends.

Children can only talk to existing contacts on their phone, although this may feel safer, it’s still important to remember that some content shared may not be appropriate for children, or they have contacts (strangers) in their phone who they have never met face to face.

Likewise, as with all social media, caution is advised over your child’s digital footprint, particularly the content (photos, videos and messages) they choose to share via WhatsApp. Once shared, it can be copied, re shared and posted anywhere online.

WhatsApp’s default privacy setting allows any other WhatsApp user to view your profile photo, status and when you were last using the app.

You can specify that your child’s Whatsapp account (when they were last online, profile photo, status) can be seen by:

Everyone - all WhatsApp users.

My Contacts - the contacts from their address book only. This is the recommended option for most users.



Talk to your child about their privacy settings and ask them to adjust to ‘my contacts’ if they have them set to ‘everyone’ by following the steps below:

Privacy settings are accessed here: WhatsApp > Settings > Account > Privacy


How do I report a user to WhatsApp?

There is no direct way to report a user, or specific abuse, other than to block them from sending you further messages.

To do this, tap: Settings > Account > Privacy > Blocked Contacts

WhatsApp messages sent by a blocked contact will not show up on your child’s phone and will never be delivered to them. The ‘last seen’ status information and profile picture will no longer be visible to blocked contacts.

To permanently delete a contact in WhatsApp, you will need to delete them from your phone’s list of contacts.

If you have any concerns about grooming, sexual abuse or exploitation on Whatsapp or on any online app or site, Report to CEOP (the National Crime Agency's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command) at


How do I disable a WhatsApp account?

Go to: Settings > Account > Delete My Account

This will remove all account information from the service including deleting all message history, and removing the user from all WhatsApp group