Talking to young children about e-safety

Posted on 27 August 2015

New research published today by YouGov found that parents are reluctant to talk to young children about e-safety. 

Of more than 2,000 parents of 8 - 13 year-olds in the UK the research found that parents felt a child should be at least nine before online safety issues could be discussed, despite figures showing that 91% of 8 year old's were already using the internet at least once a week.

With technology forming a huge part of young people’s live it is important parents are talking to young children about e-safety to ensure they are safe online.  At Childnet we encourage these conversations to start as soon as children are using technology. 

At a young age the conversation is simple; parents can find out about and get involved with the games and services they like to use, make sure children know they should turn to you if they are worried, and help them to understand what it means to be kind to others online.  We know that children are inspired by technology, and are learning to navigate websites, online games, consoles, and touch screen technology from a very young age.  By engaging with young children about the things they like to do online and having an open dialogue about internet safety young children will be more likely to come to their parents if they have a problem with something online in the future, and it will establish positive use while their behaviour is still in formation, setting them up to be positive digital citizens in the future.

To start these conversations with children at a young age we have a few resources that can help:

  • Read our Smartie the Penguin storybook to help reinforce the importance of telling a parent or carer
  • Digiduck’s Big Decision is a free storybook which can be used to help children consider the impact of their online behaviours on others
  • Learn the SMART rules of e-safety together by watching our fun pirate-themed animation, The Adventures of Captain Kara
  • Putting in place a family agreement is a great way to start a conversation with your whole family about how you all use the internet and discuss together how to behave in a positive way online.  Our Family Agreement template provides advice and a framework that will help families set clear expectations for positive and safe internet use

Parents can find out more about key internet safety topics and how to set up parental controls by visiting

For parents in need of technical advice, the NSPCC have teamed up with O2 to launch an online safety helpline.  The helpline, which launches today, forms part of a series of initiatives by the NSPCC and O2 which aims to equip parents and other family members with the knowledge and confidence to chat regularly with their kids about what they're doing online, and with whom.

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