11-14 year olds

At this age young people are likely to be completely independent users of technology but will still need online safety messages reinforcing and support when dealing with upsetting or worrying online situations.   

As young people get older they may engage more frequently with others online via social media, messaging apps and games. They can develop a false sense of security and confidence that grooming cannot happen to them at this age or from the safety of their own home. Whilst not everyone they will engage with online is a groomer, it is still important to support young people at this age in recognising inappropriate online chat and knowing where they can go to for help should they be worried about themselves or others.

What are the signs of inappropriate contact from others online?

Not all inappropriate contact is the same and groomers are unfortunately very skilled at what they do. However, the following signs are things which you may want to talk to a trusted adult about, report or block further contact.

Someone suggesting or pressuring a child to:

  • meet up offline
  • share personal information about themslves or others
  • send images and videos of themselves
  • share sexual messages, images or videos
  • keep contact private or to keep secrets
  • not talk to friends or family
  • always be available and reply straight away to messages.

5 top tips for supporting young people aged 11-14:

  1. Have open and honest conversations – talking openly about online experiences is one way for you and your child to explore what is happening in an honest and supportive way. It’s important to keep a non-judgemental approach and remember that children will use the internet differently to adults.  
  2. Discuss the difference between online and offline friends – friendship can be a challenging concept online. We can communicate with people that we only know online in the same space as trusted friends and family. This can make it difficult for a young person to recognise appropriate boundaries. It’s important to emphasise that however nice a new friend online can seem, it can be difficult to know how trustworthy they are, as it is easy to disguise your true identity online.
  3. Find out where the report and block buttons are – social media, apps, games and sites all offer reporting and blocking tools. You can find out more by visiting the UK Safer Internet Centre Safety Guides. You can also report grooming to CEOP.  
  4. Make sure your child knows you are there to help – worrying about how a parent or carer will react can prevent young people from asking for help. Make sure that your child knows that no matter what has happened, you are there to help them.
  5. Know where to get more support – you can find out more about where to get support by visiting our pages for parents and carers and young people.

Conversation starter ideas:

Use these questions to form an informal discussion where you too offer an opinion. You don’t need to have all the answers and sometimes it can help discussions with young people if you are open to learning from them. This can help young people to feel less like they are being quizzed or it is assumed that they don’t know anything about keeping themselves safe online.

  1. What is the difference between people we only know online and people we know offline as well?
  2. How do we know that we can trust someone?
  3. If someone receives a message from a person, they only know online asking for any of the following, what could they do?

Suggesting to meet up offline, asking for personal information (phone numbers, address, school etc) or for them to send photos or videos, to move chats to private messages or asking them to keep a secret.  

  1. How would someone know they are being pressured online? What could they do if they thought they were? How could you help if you were worried about a friend being pressured online?
  2. Not all messages from someone new online are worrying, but how do you know which ones might be?  
  3. Do you know where the report and block buttons are on different apps?
  4. Do you know where to make a report if someone is pressuring you to do anything in question 3?
  5. Who can you come to for help if something worries or upsets you online? (include home, school and helplines)